List of Articles R
Stingrays: Diversity and
Uruguayan Longline Fishery
Andr6s Domingo Illustration @ R Williams 1993
Sawfishes in the Indigenous Art of Panama
Matthew T. McDavitt
Lake Nicaragua Revisited: Conversations with a Former Sawfish
Matthew T. McDavitt
Cipactli's Sword, Tlaltecuhtli's teeth: Deciphering the Sawfish & Shark
Offerings in the Aztec Great Temple
Matthew T. McDavitt
Coastal Shark Fishery off Pernambuco Brazil: Is There Any Possibility
SErgio Macedo Gomes de Mattosin i
Molecular Genetics of Some Brazilian Sharks
Manuel Furtado-Neto and Steve Carr
Projeto Cay(o: a Study of Sharks Caught by Artisanal Fisheries in Sao
Paulo, Southern Brazil
Otto B. F. Gadig, Fabio S. Motta and Rafael C. Namora
^B Otto B. F. Gadig, Fabio S. Motta and Rafael C. Namora ^ ^^^^H
The Artisanal Ray Fishery in the Gulf of California: Development,
Fisheries Research and Management Issues
J. Fernando Marquez-Farias
Historic Trends in Catches of the Brazilian Longline Fishery in the
Southwestern Equatorial Atlantic Ocean
Fabio H. V. Hazin, Matt K. Broadhurst, Humberto G. Hazin and Paulo
IUCN SSC Specialist Group Grants
Bycatch of Sharks and Rays in the Deep Sea Crustacean Fishery off the
Enzo Acufa & Juan C. Villarroel
Pelagic Fisheries in the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve
This issue is Sponsored by the National Audubon Society Living Oceans
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Neotropical Freshwater Stingrays: diversity and
Patricia Charvet-Almeida1, Maria LOcia G6es de Araujo2, Ricardo S.
Rosa3 and Getulio Rinc6n4
1MPEG, Belem; 2UA, Manaus; 3UFPB, Joio Pessoa; 4UNESP, Rio
(the authors' name sequence does not indicate priority in the
contribution to this article).
The family Potamotrygonidae, Garman 1877 is comprised of freshwater stingrays with
geographical distribution restricted to South America. They occur in several river
basins draining into the Atlantic Ocean, and a few species enter estuarine waters. The
taxonomic status of the group has been subject to debate in the recent literature, with
some authors regarding it as a monophyletic family (Thorson et al. 1983, Rosa et al.
1987, Lovejoy 1996), while others treat it as part of the Dasyatidae, either as a
subfamily (Nelson 1994) or as a paraphyletic assemblage (Nishida 1990). The
taxonomic composition of the Potamotrygonidae was revised by Rosa (1985), who
reported 32 species clearly assigned to this family, 20 of which were considered valid
species in three distinct genera, namely Plesiotrygon, Potamotrygon and Paratrygon.
This taxonomic arrangement has been followed by subsequent authors (Eschmeyer
1998, Compagno 1999) although Rosa and others have presented evidence of several
undescribed species (Rosa 1985, Carvalho 2001), and of at least one undescribed
genus (Ishihara and Taniuchi 1995, Compagno 1999, Charvet-Almeida and Rosa
were not valuable to
as food fish
rays are routinely
captured as a food
resource in some
regions of the lower "."' .
In addition, during
the last 15 years Potamotrygon leopoldi, searching for food in its natural habitat.
they have become This is one of the most valuable species in the ornamental fish
important as market. Photo: Patricia Charvet-Almeida.
comprising 1 % of the total ornamental fish exports from Manaus (Amazonas State),
with at least six species regularly exported for this purpose. Potamotrygon motoro, P.
orbignyi, P. schroederi, P. leopoldi, P. henlei and Potamotrygon sp. comprise 67% of
all freshwater stingrays exported from Manaus, and the latter three species are
endemic to areas where gold mines, dams, and large ecotourism projects are in
progress. Twenty thousand freshwater stingrays are now exported annually from
Brazil. Around 57 % are from the Rio Negro Basin (Amazonas State). Despite this
demand, the Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA) has no fishery or exportation
records for these species from this area. Specimens from other areas are often
incorrectly identified and export numbers are certainly underestimated. Nowadays, P.
leopoldi and P. henlei are in fact illegally exported from Brazil. Some other species,
from the Amazonas State, are being exported according to law number 022/98 (IBAMA
2001) that establishes a quota system for each export authorised species.
The most important countries involved in the Potamotrygonidae trade are the United
States, Japan, Taiwan and Germany, where these stingrays are sold in pet shops
according to codes that represent a particular colour pattern rather than a species.
Accidents involving freshwater stingrays are common in most Amazon Basin rivers.
Painful results of these accidents certainly make these stingrays extremely non-
charismatic and feared animals for local residents and visitors. It has been estimated
that in the last three years at least 21,000 stingrays have been removed from the
population as a direct result of the tourism industry, with agencies hiring people to
"cleanup" the river beaches by killing the stingrays prior to the arrival of tourists.
Mutilation of specimens has also been observed. Unfortunately, given that the removal
of stingrays in this way does not represent "fishing" as such, IBAMA has been unable
to control it.
Case study of the Tucurui Dam
The present Brazilian electrical crisis and the subsequent demand for the construction
of hydroelectric powerplants has raised questions about the effects of dams on
freshwater fishes, especially stingray populations. Currently there are 21 dams under
construction, and Brazilian scientists are running against time in order to collect as
much biological and ecological data as possible, to measure the effects on fish
populations. The Tucurui Dam, closed in 1984, has completely prevented the
interchange of stingrays between the Tocantins and Para rivers.
The Tocantins River is also home to the endemic stingray species Potamotrygon
henlei, a precious black and white spotted ray for aquarists. Seventeen years since the
dam closure, local fishermen report that piranhas and stingrays, especially P. henlei,
have increased abruptly in number, while some teleosts have disappeared and others
decreased in size. The stingrays (P. henlei) have learned to eat the meshed fishes
caught in the gillnets, and fisherman do not kill them since their meat has no
commercial value in the region. Although preliminary evidence indicates a positive
situation for P. henlei in the reservoir area, the same cannot be confirmed for P.
orbignyi or Paratrygon aiereba, since the implications of the interrupted genetic flux
between Tocantins and Amazonas populations can only be speculated at this time.
Ecology and Conservation
Until recently, the life history
parameters of potamotrygonid
stingrays were virtually unknown,
despite the fact that they have
already been fished for decades,
increasingly for the international
ornamental fish trade market.
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Several species remain undescribed
but are being traded and kept by
freshwater hobbyists from all over
Lasso et al. (1997), Araujo (1998)
and Charvet-Almeida (2001)
provided information on reproduction
and the general biology of several
species. The lack of adequate life
history parameters for most species
of this family prevents precise
assessments of their conservation
status. On the other hand, direct
evidence of impacts on natural
populations, including habitat
degradation from river damming and
mining, as well as the ornamental
fisheries pressure has led to
preliminary concern for several
species. The effect of these activities
on the populations is far from being
well understood. So far, five species
have been cited in the IUCN (2000)
Red List as threatened species.
The importance of freshwater
stingrays to the ornamental fish
stingrays to the ornamental fish Potamotrygon motoro, a widely distributed
industry in the Amazon Region can
ndr n e ao eo ca species used for ornamental purposes. Photo:
no longer be ignored because the Maria Lucia G. Arajo.
international demand for these
species is growing (Brooks 1995). The hobbyists determine the demand for these
fishes and direct the fishing effort. A management plan for this fishery must consider
the complex chain that involves the subsistence of the fishermen, the interest of the
hobbyists, the environmental conditions in freshwater stingray habitats and the
limitations of the life history of each species.
Araujo, M. L. G. 1998. Biologia Reprodutiva e Pesca de Potamotrygon sp. C
(Chondrichthyes Potamotrygonidae), no M6dio Rio Negro, Amazonas. Unpublished
dissertation. Institute Nacional de Pesquisas da Amaz6nia & Universidade do
Brooks, D. R. 1995. Neotropical freshwater stingrays and their parasites: a tale of an
ocean and a river long ago. In: Oetinger, M. I. and G.D. Zorzi (eds.). The Biology of
Freshwater Elasmobranch. Journal of Aquariculture and Aquatic Sciences 7:52-61.
Charvet-Almeida, P. 2001. Ocorrencia, Biologia e Uso das Raias de Agua Doce na
Baia de Maraj6 (Para, Brasil), com Enfase na Biologia de Plesiotrygon iwamae
(Chondrichthyes: Potamotrygonidae). Unpublished dissertation. Universidade Federal
do Para & Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi. 213 pp.
Carvalho, M. 2001. An overview of the taxonomy of Neotropical freshwater stingrays
(Chondrichthyes: Myliobatiformes: Potamotrygonidae). Abstracts of the Joint Meeting
of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. American Society of Ichthyologists and
Herpetologists. Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.
Charvet-Almeida, P. and R.S. Rosa. 2001. A New Genus and Species of Freshwater
Stingray (Potamotrygonidae) from the Lower Amazon Drainage. Abstracts of the Joint
Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. American Society of Ichthyologists and
Herpetologists. Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA.
Compagno, L. J. V. 1999. Checklist of living elasmobranchs. In: Sharks, skates and
rays, the biology of elasmobranch fishes. W. C. Hamlett (ed.). The John Hopkins
University Press, Baltimore. p. 471-498.
Eschmeyer, W. N. 1998. Catalogue of fishes. California Academy of Sciences. San
Ferreira, A. R. 1886. Viagem Filos6fica ao Rio Negro. Revista do Instituto Hist6rico
Geografico Brasileiro, XLIL (1):123-188.
IBAMA Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis.
2001. Portaria no 022/98.
Ishihara, H. and T. Taniuchi. 1995. A strange potamotrygonid ray (Chondrichthyes:
Potamotrygonidae) from the Orinoco River system. In: Oetinger, M. I. and Zorzi, G. D.
(eds.). The Biology of Freshwater Elasmobranch. Journal ofAquariculture & Aquatic
IUCN. 2000. 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Compiled by C. Hilton-
Taylor. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Gland,
Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Lasso, C. A., A.B. Rial and 0. Lasso-Alcala. 1997. Notes on the biology of the
freshwater stingrays Paratrygon aiereba (Mller and Henle 1841) and Potamotrygon
orbignyi (Castelnau 1855) (Chondrichthyes: Potamotrygonidae) in the Venezuelan
Ilanos. Acqua, 2(3):39-50.
Lovejoy, N. R. 1996. Systematics of myliobatid elasmobranchs: with emphasis on the
phylogeny and historical biogeography of neotropical freshwater stingrays
(Potamotrygonidae: Rajiformes). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 117:207-257.
Nelson, J.S. 1994. Fishes of the world. New York, John Willey & Sons.
Nishida, K. 1990. Phylogeny of the Suborder Myliobatidoidei. Mem. Fac. fisher.
Hokkaido Univ. 37:1-108.
Rosa, R. S. 1985. A systematic revision of the South American freshwater stingrays
(Chondrichthyes: Potamotrygonidae). Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The College
of William and Mary, Williamsburg. 523 pp.
Rosa, R. S., H. Castello and T.B. Thorson. 1987. Plesiotrygon iwamae, a new genus
and species of Neotropical freshwater stingray (Chondrichthyes: Potamotrygonidae).
Thorson, T. B., D. R. Brooks and M. A. Mayes. 1983. The evolution of freshwater
adaptation in stingrays. Nat. Geog. Res. Reports 15:663- 694.
2445 ap.1202-Batista Campos
Search Fishs Selections...
As we go to press, the future of shark populations in the Galapagos Islands seems
once again to be on a knife-edge A meeting is to be held in Ecuador in April to
discuss authorising commercial fishing for tunas and other pelagics in the Galapagos
Marine Resources Reserve. The SSG have written a statement to be distributed at this
meeting (see p.19). While the SSG recognizes the value of marine fisheries to the
economy of the region, the unique status of the Galapagos Islands, a World Heritage
Site, requires that management be undertaken in a manner more precautionary than
that employed in other areas. Ensuring the survival of this precious natural ecosystem -
is more than a philosophical exercise; from a practical standpoint, an undisturbed
natural system offers very real economic value through ecotourism. Alteration of even
a segment of the ecosystem can initiate deleterious changes throughout that will
adversely affect Ecuador's ability to attract ecotourists to the region.
On a business note, I would like to draw your attention to the box on p.19 regarding
donations to help fund future issues of Shark News. With our fulltime Programme
Officer now employed we are publishing at least two issues every year, and this is very
expensive to the SSG in terms of printing and postage. Over 900 individuals and
organizations all over the world, ranging from SSG scientists and government agencies
to interested members of the general public, receive Shark News for free. We do not
have the resources to administer a subscription system, instead we rely on voluntary
financial contributions from our readers. Each issue costs us approximately US$3,500
for printing, distribution and editing, and aside from our major sponsors (such as
National Audubon, this issue), we receive less than US$100 per year from our readers.
This is a request to try and increase the donations made. Any amount, however much
you can afford, is greatly appreciated. We can't do it without you.
Merry Camhi, SSG Deputy Chair.
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Elasmobranch research in Brazil
In November 2001, a workshop was held in Santos on Chondrichthyes, organized by
NUPEC (Nucleo de Estudo e Pesquisa em Chondrichthyes), and the Instituto de
Pesca. The workshop focused on diseases and parasites of sharks and rays in
captivity. In addition, the problems of commercial trade in elasmobranchs in the
Amazon region was discussed, as was the issue of shark bycatch in the region.
Brazilian representatives participated in the ICCAT Data Preparatory Meeting for
Atlantic Shark Stock Assessments, held in Canada in 2001. This year the Department
of Fishery (Departamento de Pesca e AqLiicultura), Ministry of Agriculture (Ministerio
da Agriculture e do Abastecimento) created a national tuna and and alike specialist group
(Sub- Comity Cientifico do Comite Consultivo Permanente de Gestio sobre Atuns e
Afins-SC/CPG), and has held some meetings in order to work on pelagic shark data
from longliners. The national pelagic shark assessment statistical meeting will take
place in April 2002.
The major problem in Brazil with the coastal and freshwater elasmobranch catch
statistics and trade is the lack of control, and monitoring by species or group of -
species. The number of specialists here are few, so we do not have appropriate
statistics to evaluate the real situation of these animals.
The next SBEEL meeting (Sociedade Brasileira Para O Estudo De Elasmobranquios)
will be held in Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, at Universidade Federal da Paraiba, 25-29 *
SSG Regional Vice-Chair, Southwest Atlantic
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Bycatch and Lost Catch in the Uruguayan Longline
Andres Domingo, Direcci6n Nacional de Recursos Acuaticos,
Swordfish are the main target of the Uruguayan longline fleet which began its activity in
1969. Currently there are nine operating vessels (Mora and Domingo 2001). In 1998,
DINARA (the government office in charge of marine and aquatic resources) began
conducting an observer program onboard the fleet, with the purpose of obtaining
information on the target species (swordfish, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna), and those
caught as incidental catch (albacore, sharks). *
Though shark fins were not traditionally a target of the fishery, there is an increasing
fishing effort for this product, and it has become one of the main targets in many of the
fishing trips. Traditionally, fins belonged to the crew. However, as a result of the
population growth the increase in purchasing power of Eastern markets and the
popularity of shark fin soup, there is a growing demand for shark fins which often
reaches the highest prices among sea products. For this reason fins are now shared, in
most cases fifty-fifty between the crew and the company. Another consequence of the
increasing demand is that juvenile specimens previously released are now discarded
after finning. .
Ten trips with scientific observers were made between 1998 and 2000, and 153
longline sets were monitored. It was found that all sharks caught were finned. Shark
bycatch fluctuated between 7-37% of the total capture, and between 18-70% of the
captured elasmobranchs. Most of the bycatch consisted of blue sharks less than 1.50
m in length, together with several other species of carcharhinids.
There is a proportion of the total capture that becomes detached from the gear at the
moment of recovery. This is known as lost catch and can be caused by operating
problems (for example, the tension of the gear, if contrary to the direction of the ship
may cause the fish to be lost if the ship does not stop in time), or due to the conflicting
interests of the skipper and crew (the skipper is paid only for the target species,
whereas the crew earnings are based on the total catch, thus if the species caught are *
not valuable for the skipper, he will not stop the vessel) (Domingo et al. 2001). The lost
catch was found to amount to 4-7% of the total capture, with over 50% of the lost catch
consisting of elasmobranchs.
Considering that the operating modality of the Uruguayan fleet is similar to that of
others operating in the South Western Atlantic Ocean, we believe that the performance
of these other fleets are likely to be similar to those described here. The pressure of
these fleets in search of fins from juvenile sharks together with the lost catch values
indicate that the mortality values due to fishing may differ significantly from values
obtained from landing declarations and logbooks. The best way of determining the -
impact of these fisheries on resources is through scientific observation programs.
Mora 0. and A. Domingo. 2001. Informe Nacional de Uruguay, ICCAT, COM/01,
Domingo A., O. Mora and M. Comes. 2001. Evoluci6n de las captures de
Elasmobranquios pelagicos en la pesqueria de atunes de Uruguay, con 6nfasis en los
tiburones azul (Prionace glauca), moro (Isurus oxyrinchus) y porbeagle (Lamna
nasus). ICCAT, SCRS/01/ 74. Espaia.
Direcci6n Nacional de Recursos AcuBticos
Recursos Pelagicos, Montevideo- Uruguay
Fax: (5982) 4013216
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
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Sawfishes in the indigenous art of Panama -
Matthew T. McDavitt *
Sawfishes have long appeared in the native art of Panama. 1,400 years ago, bold
geometric sawfishes adorned the pottery of the Cocle people of Central Panama.
Highly stylized, these sawfishes often merge in complex, swirling patterns with other
marine and riverine denizens such as crocodiles and sharks. The descendants of the
Cocle were annihilated when the Spanish conquered the New World, so we do not
know what significance sawfishes held for this culture. Several modern studies of
Cocle iconography have put forth two possibilities. Linares suggests that sawfishes,
along with other dangerous creatures, symbolized "aggression and hostility", qualities
valued by a warrior society (Linares 1977). In contrast, Labbe interprets these
sawfishes as shape-shifting manifestations of shamans or their spirit-animal assistants
(Labbe 1995). Certainly, modern Native American societies in Panama view sawfishes
as spiritually powerful beings sought out by shamans.
The EmberB and Wounaan peoples, sometimes referred to collectively as the Choc6,
inhabit the lush Darien rainforest near the Colombian border in south-eastern Panama.
Their villages are grouped along the Chucunaque and Sambi river systems, both
emptying into the Pacific Ocean. Sawfishes are common in these rivers (Breder 1928,
Bleher 1994), but the exact species of this freshwater pristid has not yet been '
determined. The Embera/Wounaan call sawfishes mona and small individuals are
exploited for food (Breder 1928). These toothy rays are also said to harbour powerful
spirits, and Embera/Wounaan shamans elicit the assistance of sawfish spirits during
healing ceremonies. They carve batons from dense cocobolo wood to house these
powerful animal spirits, assuring their continued cooperation in fighting supernatural
Freshwater sawfish carved from a tagua nut by Gereniho Negria (Wounaan people,
Darien, Panama). Tagua carving is a new art form developed to generate cash
income for marginalized Wounaans. [Length: 9.6 cm.] Collection of the author.
Often unable to sustain themselves through traditional subsistence methods due to
growing competition for productive forest, many Embera/Wounaan are finding ways to
participate in the cash economy of modern Panama. Skilled artists now sell their
carvings and handicrafts to an ever growing tourist and tribal art market; one art form
was created purely for sale outside the village. When construction of the Pan American
Highway displaced many Darien villages from their lands, artists began carving
miniature rainforest animals out of ivory nuts (or tagua) for income.
These charming figurines have been warmly received in world markets, often likened tc
the highly collected netsuke carvings of Japan. Both the Embera/Wounaan and the
sawfishes face an uncertain future due to intensified logging and ranching in the
Darien, both contributing to river-choking erosion.
Perhaps the most celebrated indigenous art of Panama is the Kuna mola. The Kuna
occupy the San Bias archipelago and the adjacent mainland along the Caribbean
coast. Molas are complex applique cloth panels which Kuna women use to decorate
their blouses. This art form developed a century ago, a merging of native body painting
and forced European standards of dress, compelling Kuna women to wear Western
style clothing. The decorative molas soon became a symbol of Kuna ethnic identity,
and they are now regarded as fine indigenous art.
Molas are made by stitching several layers of coloured cloth together. The top layers
have intricate geometric designs cut into them, allowing the brilliant coloured layers
below to show through. Kuna women use cotton cloth of many vibrant shades, creating
works of remarkable beauty and power. Themes are largely drawn from the natural anc
mythological landscape. The Kuna believe that sawfishes (suku) are special protectors
of the Kuna people, and will come to their aid to fight off malevolent denizens of the
sea, or rescue them from drowning (Nordenskiold 1938). Here too, sawfishes are
utilized as spirit guides by indigenous shamans.
Cloth applique mola (Kuna people, San Bias Archipelago, Panama). A sawfish
battles a shark and crocodile while a Kuna spear-fisherman watches from shore.
Called 'suku', sawfishes are considered guardians of the Kuna and are never killed
by them. Collection of the author.
Bleher, H. 1994. Choc6. Aqua Geographia 8:24-42.
Breder, C.M., Jr. 1928. The Fishes of Rio Chucunaque Drainage, Eastern Panama.
Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 57:91-176.
Labbe, A.J. 1995. Guardians of the Life Stream: Shamans, Art and Power in
Prehispanic Central Panama. Santa Ana: Bowers Museum of Cultural Art.
Linares, O.F. 1977. Ecology and the Arts in Ancient Panama: On the Development of
Social Rank and Symbolism in the Central Provinces, p.70. Washington D.C.:
Nordenskiold, E. 1938. An Historical and Ethnological Survey of the Cuna Indians,
p382. Goteborg: Goteborgs Museum. Perrin, M. 1999. Magnificent Molas: The Art of
the Kuna Indians. France: Flammarion.
6342 Hawthorne Terrace, Norcross, GA 30092, USA
Lake Nicaragua revisited: conversations with a former
Matthew T. McDavitt
In a series of articles spanning more than a decade, the late Dr. Thomas Thorson
chronicled the catastrophic decline of sawfish populations in Lake Nicaragua. During
his pioneering tagging study of bull shark movements into the Rio San Juan-Lake
Nicaragua system in 1966, he discovered that largetooth sawfishes (Pristis perottet)
were remarkably abundant in the lake. In 1970, the Nicaraguan government
encouraged the development of a targeted fishery to exploit the lake's rich
elasmobranch resources. Two companies and a processing plant were established in
Granada, a town in the northwest corner of the lake. By 1975, an estimated 60,000 -
100,000 sawfishes had been harvested (Thorson 1976). The meat was consumed
domestically and exported overseas; dried fins were marketed to the lucrative Chinese
shark-fin trade (Thorson 1982a).
By 1973, Dr. Thorson sounded the alarm that sawfish populations were reaching
critical levels, and that immediate action was required to forestall the impending crash
of the sawfish fishery (Thorson 1982a). His recommendations went unheeded, and in
the 1980's the industry collapsed, and fishermen refused to target the now elusive
sawfishes. Faced with the reality that the once abundant sawfishes were now
functionally extirpated from the lake, the Nicaraguan government instituted a temporary
moratorium on targeted fishing for sawfishes and sharks (Thorson 1982a). They hoped
this would allow the sawfishes time to replenish their stocks, beginning the slow
process of reestablishing healthy populations in the lake. Political upheaval in
Nicaragua during the 1980's precluded any reassessment studies of sawfish
populations in the lake. It remained unclear whether the ban on targeting sawfishes
had been effective. Had the sawfishes returned to Lake Nicaragua?
A new survey
In the summer of 1998, I visited Lake Nicaragua to assist with a preliminary survey of
shark and sawfish populations initiated by Dr. William Raschi. Guided by former shark
fishermen who knew the best locations to find these elasmobranchs, we set a series of *
longlines totalling 5,500 meters at depths ranging from 2.4m 37.8m. We had also
planned to set a series of gillnets, but our net vanished the first night it was set. No
sharks or sawfishes were caught during the brief survey. Conversations with local
fishermen confirmed that sawfish and shark populations have not recovered from the
devastating over-harvest two decades ago.
Interview on Ometepe
With the assistance of Alvaro Molina of the Estaci6n Biol6gica de Ometepe, I
interviewed a fisherman who had participated in the sawfish fishery. Eduardo entered
the industry near the end of the sawfish fishery; of particular interest are his assertions -
that he caught substantial numbers of sawfishes during the 1980's, the decade when
the fishery collapsed and the temporary moratorium was eventually enacted.
Q: What is your full name and occupation?
A: Eduardo Lanuza Diaz, fisherman.
Q: When did you become a professional shark fisherman?
A: In 1980, now I fish for tarpon (Tarpon atlanticus) and alligator gar (Lepisosteus
Q: How many sawfishes have you caught during your career?
A: During the 1980's I caught between 150 and 250 sawfishes per week, fishing
exclusively for sawfishes. There were three other boats doing the same.
Q: Where in the lake can sawfishes be found today?
A: Between Ometepe Island (Maderas volcano side) and Zanate Island, which is the
deepest part of the lake.
Q: At what depth do you usually find sawfishes, and on what kind of substrate?
A: 40 meters in depth, mostly on muddy bottoms.
Q: What type of gear do you use to catch sawfishes?
A: With gillnets laid out on the bottom of the lake.
Q: How many sawfishes are accidentally caught in your nets per year now (1998)?
A: Between four and six sawfishes per year.
Q: Do you know anyone who has been injured catching sawfishes?
A: The animal can be very aggressive and has to be killed before it can be handled.
Sometimes they have to drag it to shore to kill it. Injuries can occur when you drag it
along the boat to kill it.
Q: If a sawfish gets caught in your nets, how do you kill it?
A: By hitting it on the head with a baseball bat type instrument.
Q: What do the sawfishes eat?
A: They eat small fishes at the bottom, the same kinds you caught (cichlids). When
sawfishes are in heat, they come to the surface to mate.
Q: Where can baby sawfishes be found in the lake?
A: In very shallow areas around Ometepe and Zanate Islands.
Q: How do you cure a sawfish snout?
A: Hang them from a tree to dry and the cut end is cured with salt.
Q: Do you think the ban on sawfish fishing has helped?
A: The population has not recovered from the overkill of the 1980's.
Lake Nicaragua is perhaps unique in the world. Nowhere else have sawfishes been
recorded in such densities (Thorson 1982a), the population is even more remarkable
because it exists in a lake. Dr. Raschi's brief longline survey, in agreement with the
opinions of local fisherman, suggests that the government ban on targeted fishing for
sawfishes and sharks has been ineffective. While no longer subject to focused harvest,
sawfishes continue to be killed in gillnets set for other species. This incidental capture
has seemingly prevented any meaningful recovery of elasmobranch populations in
Lake Nicaragua. Unless substantial changes are made to current fishing policy, it is
doubtful that sawfishes will ever return to their former abundance in the lake.
These observations are supported by examples of sawfish population declines
elsewhere in the world. Freshwater sawfishes (Pristis microdon) were decimated in
Lake Sentani, West Papua, Indonesia, by incidental gillnet capture alone. In Florida,
populations of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) are just now showing signs of
slowing decline, only after gillnet fishing had been eliminated from state waters for
several decades (Colin Simpfendorfer, pers. comm.). Sawfish populations are
extremely sensitive to intensive gillnetting, regardless of the species targeted. This
factor must be considered carefully whenever habitat is set aside for endangered
Thorson, T.B. 1976. Observations on the reproduction of the sawfish, Pristis perotteti,
in Lake Nicaragua, with recommendations for its conservation. In: T.B. Thorson (ed.).
0 -II- -fT~^^^^
Investigations of the Ichthyofauna of Nicaraguan Lakes, pp. 641-650. Lincoln: School
of Life Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Thorson, T.B. 1980. La explotacion excesiva del pez sierra, Pristis perotteti, en el Lago
Nicaragua. ConCienca 7(1):11-13.
Thorson, T.B. 1982a. The impact of commercial exploitation on sawfish and shark
populations in Lake Nicaragua. Fisheries 7(2):2- 10.
Thorson, T.B. 1982b. Life history implications of a tagging study of the sawfish, Pristis
perotteti, in the Lake Nicaragua-Rio San Juan system. Environmental Biology of Fishes
6342 Hawthorne Terrace, Norcross, GA 30092, USA
S Se F i S S*I 5 .r
Cipactli's sword, Tlaltecuhtli's teeth: deciphering the -H
sawfish & shark offerings in the Aztec Great Temple
Matthew T. McDavitt
Mysterious remains .
In 1978, the ruins of the Aztec Great *
Temple were discovered beneath ,. 0 .
the central plaza of Mexico City. ;'''
Over the next few decades, this ,-
sacred structure was excavated and
studied, revealing a wealth of .
information about Aztec religious life.
Five-hundred years ago, this multi-
tiered pyramid marked the literal
center of the Aztec universe. Here rr
elaborate ceremonies were
performed to maintain cosmic order I*
and sustain the gods. Among the -
abundant offerings entombed in the
foundations were the remains of
dozens of sawfishes, sharks, and .
crocodiles (Lopez Lujan 1994). In
fact, these aquatic predators
represent the most abundant large
animal remains buried beneath the
Great Temple. Why did the Aztecs Rostrum of the sawfish Pristis pectinata in
bury so many sawfishes and sharks Offering 58 of the Great Temple. Used as tools
beneath their main temple? The of sacrifice, these spiky snouts symbolized the
following paper will briefly examine blood-spilling swords that fed Cipactli. (Photo
the role these animals played in the courtesy of CNCA-INAH-MEX)
cosmology of the ancient Aztecs.
Creation and sacrifice
In Aztec belief, the world had been founded on the premise of divine sacrifice. The
gods had drained all their life-force into creation and no longer had the power to
sustain themselves. In a kind of cosmic conservation of energy, the Aztecs believed
that the sun could not rise, crops could not grow, and rain would not fall without the
regular release of life energy back to their creators. To keep the gods alive, humans
were obligated to feed them their blood and hearts, the most potent source of life
energy. Although the Aztecs recognized hundreds of gods, these diverse deities were
just manifestations of the primary forces of the universe such as sun and earth. The
sun was a giver of life and a protector of the Aztec people. The earth however, was
considerably more hostile...
^^H~0 0*^^^ ^^^^
The Earth-Monster subdued
When the gods were forming the world, they gazed into the primal sea, wondering how
to create land for their people. They noticed a titanic monster called Cipactli surging
through the darkened depths. Baiting the beast from the abyss, four gods wrestled the
raging creature to the surface. The deities succeeded in subduing Cipactli, eventually
ripping her in half. The earth was formed from her lower body; the heavens from her
upper half. Dismembered but alive, the paralyzed Cipactli became known as
Tlaltecuhtli, the "Earth-Lord".
Cipactli as crocodile, shark and sawfish
Little is known about Cipactli; she is rarely mentioned in the mythological texts or
pictured in the Aztec codices. However, careful examination of the iconography of this
earth-monster reveals much about her role in Aztec religious thought. Historically,
interpretations of Cipactli have been confused by zoological imprecision; various
commentators have identified Cipactli as either a serpent, lizard, alligator, crocodile,
caiman, shark, swordfish, sawfish, gar, iguana, or dragon... This confusion is
eliminated once the iconography is scrutinized.
The primary form of Cipactli is undeniably crocodilian. Cipactli is often depicted with a
reptilian scale design I have termed "Cipactli pattern" (McDavitt 1993). Composed of
wavy diagonal lines intersecting to form diamonds with a black dot in the center, this
design is a faithful rendering of the skin of true crocodiles which have sensory pits on
each of their body scales (as opposed to alligators and caimans). "Cipactli pattern" can
be used to identify other symbols linked to her. Drawings of mountains, caves, and the
ground itself are often filled with "Cipactli pattern", revealing that the earth was formed
from the body of this mighty crocodile.
Other depictions of Cipactli feature a finned fish body and heterocercal tail. Beyer
(1965) interprets this tail as belonging to the sawfish, but the tail is too strongly
heterocercal to represent this ray. In some depictions, the finned Cipactli bites the leg
off a male deity. The strong upper tail lobe combined with this propensity for man-
eating suggest the carcharhiniform sharks; stripes on one example may specifically
denote the tiger shark, though most examples are not striped. And there is a final,
more enigmatic form of Cipactli...
At times, the crocodile head of Cipactli bears a strange, toothy appendage. Though
often very stylized, several naturalistic representations clearly identify this feature as
the rostrum of a sawfish (Pristis sp.). Called acipaquitli by the Aztecs, this creature is
even linguistically linked to the earth-monster. Rarely discussed in Aztec texts and
seemingly absent from the codices, sawfish rostra have received little mention in
interpretations of the Great Temple offerings. However, these toothy snouts represent
the most abundant large animal remains interred beneath the center of the Aztec
universe. Sawfish rostra were undeniably important in Aztec religious thought, but are
there any clues to their significance?
Sword of the Earth-
In reality, sawfish
commonly in the
Aztec codices, often
sometimes bear the
0 -II- -fT~^^^^
rostra are often so
stylized that they are
rarely recognized. In
the codices, sawfish
rostra often curl with
a graceful S-curve.
This modification in
shape suggests that
sawfish rostra were
xonecuilli, an S-
In Aztec language,
the sawfish rostrum
was known as
11: 1963), linking
Cipactli to warfare
and the sword
combat which fed
her, or itlahuitequia
striker" (Sahagun 2:
1981), a term using
the same root as
"lightning". There is
pictorial evidence of
as well. Sawfish
rostra are most
often depicted as
symbolic 'swords' in
the shield / spear
A. Cipactli as crocodile growing corn on her back-note the
"Cipactli pattern" skin. (Codex Borgia); B. Cipactli as shark-note
heterocercal tail. (Codex Fejervary-Mayer); C. Cipactli head with
sawfish rostrum (petroglyph, Acalpixcan);
D. Cipactli head with sawfish snout-note S-curve resembling the
xonecuilli staff (Codex Borgia); E. Xonecuilli staff, symbolizing
lightning and fertility (Codex Borgia); F. Devouring maw of
Tlaltecuhtli as surface of the earth, accepting offering of quail
blood-the head of this "Earth Lord" is formed from two inverted
Cipactli heads joined at the base (Codex Borgia).
symbolize warfare in Aztec iconography. There is even a structural similarity between
the Aztec glass-edged swords and the sawfishes' toothy appendage. Similarly, sawfisl
rostra occasionally appear as lightning hurled by gods.
G. H. I.
G. Aztec sword & shield, symbolizing warfare (Lienzo de Tlaxcala); H. Sawfish
rostrum as symbolic sword behind shield (Codex Borbonicus); I. Detail of
xonecuilli-shaped sawfish snout behind shield-note "Cipactli pattern" (Codex
Sawfish rostra are then common both archaeologically and iconographically. In Aztec
religion, they were powerful symbols representing the connection between the
fecundity of the landscape and warfare. Cipactli/Tlaltecuhtli, enraged at being
dismembered to form the earth, demanded to be "irrigated with blood" in order to
nurture crops on her fertile back (Garibay 1973). As the 'sword' of the earth-monster,
the sawfish rostrum represented the necessity of bloodshed through combat and
sacrifice for agricultural production. In the Aztec world, there was no life without death.
The use of sawfish snouts in ritual is detailed in a text written soon after the conquest
of the Aztecs (Sahagun 2: 1981). In certain heart extraction sacrifices, the neck of the
victim was crushed with the snout of a sawfish, preventing any inauspicious cries.
Presumably, this action also allowed Cipactli to symbolically 'bite' the offering before
the heart and blood were offered to the sun.
So, what do the plentiful sawfish and shark remains entombed beneath the Aztec
Great Temple mean? Based on iconographic analysis, sawfishes, sharks, and
crocodiles clearly represent Cipactli/Tlaltecuhtli, the personified earth, at once fertile
and destructive. The detached sawfish rostra may be actual ritual implements used to
pierce the necks of sacrificial victims when the hungry earth required food. They were
probably offered, as were other tools of sacrifice, as palpable proof that the Aztecs
were fulfilling their duty to feed the gods. Based on their associations with warfare,
these 'swords' of Cipactli were potent symbols of the Aztecs' obligation to fertilize the
predatory, devouring earth with blood and bodies, so that she could in turn nourish
mankind. And there are other possibilities...
Many ancient cultures believed that the earth had been formed from a titanic monster
or dragon. These societies regularly re-enacted the battle between the gods and the
earth-monster, celebrating the founding of the world. Civilizations from Ancient
Babylonia to Edo- Period Japan performed these rituals to prevent the captive earth
from moving, a terrifying possibility which threatened to destroy the world.
Planted at the very center of the Aztec cosmos, these Cipactli remains may represent
such a foundation sacrifice. We can imagine that these crocodile, shark, and sawfish
offerings were utilized in ceremonies where Cipactli was symbolically slain to prevent
her from sinking below the waves, forever destroying the parasitic civilization resting on
her back. By cyclically defeating Cipactli and entombing her beneath the Great Temple
perhaps the Aztecs hoped to ensure that their living, hostile earth never again found
the strength to submerge.
Beyer, H. 1965. La aleta de Cipactli. El Mexico Antiguo, Tomo X:427-430.
Broda, J., D. Carrasco and E. Matos Moctezuma. 1987. The Great Temple of
Tenochtitlan: Center and Periphery in the Aztec World. Berkeley: University of
Garibay, A.M. (ed.). 1973. Teogonia e Historia de los Mexicanos. Mexico: Editorial
Lopez Lujan, L. 1994. The Offerings of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan. Colorado:
University Press of Colorado.
McDavitt, M. 1993. A Re-evaluation of the Identity and Role of the Earthmonster
'Cipactli' in Aztec Religion & Art. Unpublished bachelor's dissertation, University of
Sahagun, F.B.D. 1951-1982. Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New
Spain (13 vols). Edited and translated by A.J.O. Anderson & C.E. Dibble. Salt Lake
City: University of Utah Press.
6342 Hawthorne Terrace, Norcross, GA 30092, USA
SS.: S S*
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Coastal shark fishery off Pernambuco Brazil: is there
any possibility of management?
Sergio Macedo Gomes de Mattos,
SUDENE Renewable Resources Group, Brazil
Since the 1970's it has been questioned if a sustainable fishery for elasmobranchs is
possible. It is now generally accepted that economic and biological sustainability can
be reached through the exploitation of relatively more fecund species, under careful
The intention of this article is to highlight the importance of small coastal sharks stocks .
in poor regions with social, economic and technological difficulties, making it extremely
difficult to implement conservation and management measures. However, there are no
conclusive studies on the subject, and many questions still concern researchers and
policy and decision makers.
The first problem that we face when considering shark fisheries is with the term itself. *
Can we say that there is a small coastal shark fishery in Pernambuco, Brazil? Not as
such, although the pressures on this resource as highlighted throughout this article,
lead us to believe that these resources are in serious danger.
Small sharks play an important role in the economy of developing countries, because
they form part of the diet of the poorest communities. Studies aimed at improved
exploitation, which take into account conservation of the resource, are thus of great
In the past, high value commercial fish species occurring off Pernambuco, Brazil, such
as snappers, groupers, and mackerel, were targeted in preference to less valuable fish,
such as small coastal sharks. However, the sharp decline of many valuable
commercial stocks has resulted in an increased and directed fishing effort to make use
of less valuable species such as sharks.
The contribution of sharks to the fishing production of the State of Pernambuco has
always been very low. In the late 1970's the average contribution was 1.38% *
(SUDENE 1983), during the 1980's the average was 1%, (SUDEPE 1988), reaching
the lowest contribution in 1995, with 0.12% (4.6t) (IBAMA 1996) and fluctuating around
0.25% since then. In 2000 the total catch of sharks was 13.91t (0.24%) (IBAMA 2001).
The catch of coastal sharks around Pernambuco comprises 4 species: Rhizoprionodon
porosus, the most abundant species (60%), Rhizoprionodon lalandii, Carcharhinus
porosus and Carcharhinus acronotus.
In 2000, motor boats caught 91.6% of the total shark production (12.74t), rafts 6.8%
(0.95t) and canoes 1.6% (0.21t). Gillnets are the most common fishing gear used for
the capture of coastal sharks, although gillnets were second in the State total
production responsible for 19% (1,046.77t), being surpassed by fish traps (covos),
which were responsible for 20%. Handlines were responsible for 17% of the catch. The
relative contribution of sharks to the total catch (by gillnets only), was 1.33% (IBAMA
Some of the difficulties for the management of small coastal sharks off Pernambuco
are as follows:
1. Non-target species.
Small coastal sharks are considered of low value and importance commercially,
thus few studies have been conducted, and historical data are scarce.
Generally, these species are important among lowincome communities, due to
low prices, ease of processing and the comparatively low size/volume of the
2. High fishing effort and low abundance index;
The relative abundance was estimated through the catch per unit effort (CPUE)
in terms of total weight and number of individuals caught per 1000m2 of net per
day of fishing. This allowed the estimation of a fishing effort of approximately
320,000m2, with a CPUE of 0.12-kg/1000m2 of net/day or 0.09 ind./1000m2 of
3. Lack of trustworthy baseline data;
The lack of baseline data hinders an in-depth analysis on the occurrence and
frequency of sharks off Pernambuco coast.
4. Restricted area fishing
The fishing fleet operates near shore in depths between 10- 30m due to
unsophisticated equipment. Wooden hull man-made boats of 6-10 m length are
used, usually with 30-hp engine. It is therefore highly likely that shark nursery
areas are under heavy fishing pressure.
5. Low selectivity of fishing gears
Amongst the variety of fishing gears used for the artisanal fishery off
Pernambuco State coast, fixed gillnets are one of the most abundant, as stated
above, and catch small sharks as bycatch. Average mesh size is 50 mm from
knot to knot, nylon monofilament of 0.6 mm, an enrolment coefficient between
50%-60%, 24 meshes in height and 100 m in length.
6. No options of diversification of fishing activities
Attempts to diversify traditional fishing activities is always considered when
development plans for the artisanal fishery sector are discussed, but resistance
to this is common among fishermen who generally oppose changes to their way
of fishing, and among official government agencies considering economic
aspects and not the social and ecological aspects.
7. Social and economic conditions of fishing communities
Generally very poor social and economic conditions of coastal fishing
communities impede the introduction of new technologies, and, sometimes
prevent their development. Local sustainable development is necessary to
change this situation.
8. Vocation strengthening
The local fishing sector is known for intra- and interregional inequalities. Fishing
is the natural vocation for these communities, supplying immediate necessities,
consolidating societies and developing other local advantages.
9. High divergence and competition among fishermen and low associative
Much needs to be done to reach an adequate level of organisation in the fishing
communities of Pernambuco in order for them to participate in the planning to
achieve the desired sustainable development. In fact, the social structure of
these communities currently hinders awareness and faith in the planning and
10. Migration, distribution and abundance of stocks
There is little information on the stocks, and currently no seasonal or spatial
pattern can be drawn.
11. Environmental impacts
0 -II- -fT~^^^^
Coastal and estuarine areas off Pernambuco State are suffering intense habitat
degradation, due to high levels of anthropogenic activities. It is these nearshore
habitats most under threat that provide nursery grounds for many shark species.
Plan of Action
The environmental impacts, unsustainable fishery, and poor socioeconomic conditions
of these fishing communities all seem to be contributing to the reduction of the coastal
shark stocks. These conditions, together with the slow growth, high longevity, late
maturation and low fecundity of these sharks, mean that any management measures
introduced for the artisanal fishing sector are likely to face problems. Following the
guidelines developed by FAO (FAO 2000), a specific plan of action for small coastal
sharks stocks off Pernambuco should include and prioritise studies on:
Fisheries: fishing technique evaluation, gathering of fisheries data, and fisheries-
independent abundance information;
Ecology: temporal and spatial distribution and abundance, habitats characteristics,
oceanographic conditions, and location of nursery grounds;
Demography: incorporating biological data on reproduction, age at maturity, fecundity,
maximum age, sex ratio, and natural mortality at specific ages (Marquez-Farias and
Anthropogenic impacts: aquatic sports, bathers, industrial and domestic waste, and
harbour developments; and
Socio-economics: technological and economic dependencies of fishing communities
on production variability, strategy of harvest, processing and commercialization.
Emphasis must be give to the management credibility and the integration between
management and evaluation.
Thank you to Rachel Cavanagh for her useful suggestions and English review.
FAO. Fisheries Management 1. Conservation and Management of Sharks. FAO
Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries 4. Suppl. 1. Rome, 2000. 37 pp.
Holden, M. J. 1974. Problems in the rational exploitation of elasmobranch populations
and some suggested solutions in Sea Fisheries Research. F. R. Harden Jones (ed.). p.
Holden, M. J. 1977. Are long term for sustainable fisheries for elasmobranch possible?
Sustainable fisheries for elasmobranchs. p360-367.
IBAMA. 2001. Boletim Estatistico da Pesca Maritima do Estado de Pernambuco no
ano de 2000. SUPES-PE.
Marquez-Farias, J. F. and Castillo-Geniz, J. L. 1998. Fisheries biology and
demography of the Atlantic sharpnose shark, Rhizoprionodon terraenovae, in the
southern Gulf of Mexico. Fisheries Research 39:183-198.
Mattos, S. M. G., M. K. Broadhurst, F. H. V. Hazin and D. M. Jonnes. 2001.
Reproductive Biology of the Caribbean sharpnose shark, Rhizoprionodon porosus,
from northern Brazil. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 52:745-
SUDENE. 1983. Avaliagao do potential de tubar6es da costa nordeste do Brasil.
Recife. il. Brasil. SUDENE. Estudos de Pesca. no. 10. 31pp.
SUDEPE. 1988. Diagn6stico da Pesca do Estado de Pernambuco.
S6rgio Macedo Gomes de Mattos
Institute de Ciencias do Mar- ICM/CMIMA
Paseig Maritim de la Barceloneta, 37-49
08003 Barcelona, Spain
Fax: 34 93 230 9555
Sawfish Trade in the North of Brazil
Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Brazil
In the North of Brazil, one of the regions' most famous fish markets is the "Ver-O-Peso"
in the city of Belem (State of Para). Sawfish are routinely captured and their meat, fins
and rostral expansion (saw) are sold in local markets. Two species of sawfish (Pristis
perotteti and P. pectinata) have been observed to be landed at the "Ver-O-Peso".
The flesh of sawfish is white and tender, especially that of the juveniles, and is one of
the most valuable and preferred of the other elasmobranchs sold locally. Fins, usually
removed on board as soon as a sawfish is caught, are obviously far more valuable
than the meat, but are considered to be of intermediate quality by local fin buyers.
Saws going through the last part of the drying process before they are sold.
Photo: Patricia Charvet-Almeida.
The saws are also removed on board and dried on the boat deck along with the fins.
Large saws (1.5 m or more) are sold immediately upon arrival of the fishing boats.
Fishermen usually sell these saws to specific buyers who order them prior to the
departure of the boats. These large saws are worth up to US$ 300 depending on their
size, are used as curios, and are probably taken to other regions of the country or
exported. Small sized saws, from newborn and juvenile sawfish, are sold as curios to
tourists, and to locals as part of a regional folklore treatment of asthma. This treatment
consists of grinding the saw to a powder and mixing it with hot water to make a tea.
This tea is considered very effective by many, although there is no medical evidence
on the possible beneficial effects. Pieces of the rostral expansion are often sold since a
whole saw is not required for this treatment. Small saws also have another, rather
unfortunate use: the saw teeth are removed and tied to rooster legs as sharp
"weapons" to be used in illegal cockfights.
Sawfish are extremely vulnerable to most fisheries since their saw becomes easily
entangled in almost any kind of fishing net. When brought aboard, sawfish thrash
around, and depending on how entangled the animal is, the only way to free it from the
net (without destroying the fishing gear) is to kill and cut up the animal. Older fishermen
have commented that regionally the number of catches has reduced significantly over
the last 10-15 years.
All seven species of sawfish are listed as either Endangered or Critically Endangered
on the Red List of Threatened Species (www.redlist.org) and the listing of sawfish
under CITES should be reconsidered, in addition to the implementation of urgently
needed management and protection measures, in order to prevent further population
declines taking place.
Paseig Maritim de la Barceloneta, 37-49
2445 ap.1202-Batista Campos
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Molecular Genetics of some Brazilian Sharks
Manuel Furtado-Neto, Universidade Federal do Ceara, Brazil and *
Steve Carr, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Sharks are excellent organisms for the study of molecular evolution in vertebrates
because there is an abundant stratigraphic record based on fossil teeth which permits
accurate calibration of rates of DNA and protein sequence evolution. Literature on
molecular genetics of sharks from South America is rare. A study on the evolution of
Squatinidae sharks based on DNA sequences is presented here. -
The family Squatinidae, (angel sharks), comprises a single genus that includes fifteen
extant species. Three species of the genus Squatina, commonly known as 'cag6es-
anjos' in Brazil, are endemic to the continental shelf of southeastern South America,
between latitudes 2400'S and 4200'S: Squatina argentina, S. guggenheim and S.
occulta. Fisheries for angel sharks are of great economic importance in Rio Grande do
Sul State, Brazil.
Vooren and Silva (1991) described the species Squatina occulta which differs from S.
argentina by the shape and relative size of the pectoral fin, from S. guggenheim by the
lack of a dorsal row of spines, and from both species by the tooth formula and colour of
the dorsal body surface. Before their description of S. occulta and re-description of S.
guggenheim, only one species of Squatina was thought to occur along the southern
coast of South America. S. occulta and S. guggenheim were misidentified as S.
argentina in some studies.
In our study, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) was used to amplify 401-base pair
sequences of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene from each species. DNA
sequences of this gene from the three species of Squatina from southern Brazil were
analysed. Phylogenetic analyses were performed with the Phylogenetic Analysis Using
Parsimony (PAUP) program. The maximum parsimony tree was obtained with the
heuristic search algorithm (Swofford 1993).
The phylogenetic analyses performed indicate that the Squatina species from southern
Brazil constitute a monophyletic group, with the newly described S. occulta being more
closely related to S. guggenheim than to S. argentina in all analyses, although S.
occulta and S. guggenheim differ in morphological aspects (e.g. presence or absence
of dorsal spines, tooth formula), in growth parameters (maximum total length and total
weight, total length and total weight at birth), and in reproductive parameters (fecundity,
total length at maturity, diameter and mass of the mature follicle) (Vooren and Silva
The molecular phylogeny obtained here suggests that the similarities between S.
occulta and S. argentina are shared ancestral characteristics. S. occulta and S.
argentina have many similarities in growth and reproductive parameters. Furthermore,
the spatial distributions of these two species overlap partially in the continental shelf of
southern Brazil in depths of 60- 200 m, whereas S. guggenheim is rarely found in
depths greater than 80 m (Vooren and Silva 1991). The close relationship between S.
occulta and S. guggenheim observed in this molecular study is supported by the
number of functional ovaries. The present phylogeny suggests that a single functional
ovary is a synapomorphy between S. occulta and S. guggenheim. S. argentina is the
only one of the three angel sharks species from southern Brazil that maintains the
"ancient character" (Vooren and Silva 1991) of paired functional ovaries in the female,
while S. occulta and S. guggenheim have a single functional ovary on the left-hand
side of the body cavity. In other species of Squatina, such as S. japonica, S. dumeril,
and most specimens observed of S. californica, only the left ovary is functional,
whereas S. oculata and S. squatina have two functional ovaries (Natanson and Caillet
1986). Ovaries are paired structures in most elasmobranchs, but it was observed that
they can be asymmetrical in adult sharks of the orders Carcharhiniformes,
Pristiophoriformes and Squatiniformes. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA
sequences has shown that the angel sharks (Squatiniformes) and saw sharks
(Pristiophoriformes) are sister groups (Kitamura et al. 1996).
Vooren and Silva (1991) suggested that speciation in angel sharks may occur with
minor changes in body form, and major changes in growth and reproductive
parameters. The results of the present study suggested that S. occulta and S.
guggenheim, the two species that share the reproductive characteristic of a single
functional ovary, are the most closely related pair of species among the three species
from southern Brazil. S. argentina, which has two functional ovaries and has the
highest fecundity (7-11 embryos), is the only species that lives in depths below 200 m
(up to 500m). S. occulta is found in depths between 60-200m and has an intermediate
fecundity between the three species (4-10 embryos). S. guggenheim occurs from 0-
60m and has the lowest fecundity (3-8 embryos) (Vooren and Silva 1991).
Figure 1. Hypothesis of evolution of three species of angel sharks (S.
argentina, S. guggenheim and S. occulta) from southern Brazil as
predicted by mitochondrial.
The present phylogenetic analysis suggests that evolution of the genus Squatina in
southeastern South America waters may have occurred from deeper to shallower
waters (Figure 1). The results indicate that S. argentina was the first species of
Squatina to occupy the continental shelf in depths of 200m or more. Fossil records
suggest that the genus Squatina has existed since the Upper Jurassic (Capetta 1987).
S. occulta and S. guggenheim have evolved more recently, and speciation probably
occurred as an adaptation to life in shallower waters on different types of substrata.
The different colour patterns observed in the three species have also been cited as
evidence of adaptation to different types of ocean bottom (Vooren and Silva 1991). If
this hypothesis is true, S. guggenheim, the species that lives between 0-80m, is the
most recent species among the three Squatina from southern Brazil.
0 -II- -fT~^^^^
Cappetta, H. 1987. Chondrichthyes. II. Mesozoic and Cenozoic Elasmobranchii. Vol.
3B: handbook of paleoichthyology. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart, Germany.
Kitamura, T., A. Takemura, S. Watabe, T. Taniuchi and M. Shimizu. 1996. Molecular
phylogeny of the sharks and rays of superorder Squalea based on mitochondrial
cytochrome b gene. Fisheries Science 62(3): 340-343.
Natanson, L. J., and G. M. Cailliet. 1986. Reproduction and development of the Pacific
angel shark, Squatina californica, off Santa Barbara, California. Copeia 1986 (4):987-
Swofford, D. L. 1993. PAUP: Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony, version 3.1.
Manual. Illinois Natural History Survey, Chapaign, IL.
Vooren, C. M., and K. G. Silva. 1991. On the taxonomy of the angel sharks from
southern Brazil, with the description of Squatina occulta sp.n. Rev. Brasil. Biol 51
Universidade Federal do Ceara
Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil
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Search Fishs Selections...
Projeto Carco: a study of sharks caught by artisanal -
fisheries in Sao Paulo, Southern Brazil
Otto B. F. Gadig1, Fabio S. Motta2 and Rafael C. Namora3
1Universidade Santa Cecilia, Santos, Sao Paulo, Brazil
2Unesp, Campus de Sao Vicente, Sao Paulo, Brazil
3Unesp, Instituto de Biociencias, Rio Claro, Sao Paulo, Brazil
There have been few long-term studies on Brazilian coastal sharks (Lessa 1987, Stride -
et al. 1992, Hazin 1995). None has been undertaken in Sao Paulo State since
Sadowsky (1967) examined sharks from Cananeia. .
Studies on the biology and fisheries of coastal sharks caught by the artisanal fleet in
Sao Paulo, Brazil, commenced in July 1996. This work, known as Projeto Cagao
(Caqao is a Portuguese name for shark, widely utilised in Brazil, mainly by fishermen),
aims to understand the biological and ecological aspects of the species occurring in the
study area. The study is underway in Praia dos Pescadores (fishermen's beach),
Itanhaem County, where weekly samples are taken. The fishing fleet comprises about -
ten motorised small boats (5-6 m long), which utilise gill nets within 5-19 nautical miles
from the shore.
Sharks landed are examined and dissected by the researchers on the beach, before
processing takes place. Biological material obtained is taken to the laboratory for later
analysis. To date, up to 11,000 sharks belonging to 14 species have been studied.
Summarised species composition data
Rhizoprionodon lalandei Brazilian sharpnose
Probably the most abundant coastal shark in Southern Brazil (Figueiredo 1977). This is
the most heavily commercially exploited shark in the present study, representing more
than 50% of total shark catches. The species is present year-round in the area, in
different sizes classes. Adult females give birth between June-August.
Rhizoprionodon porosus Atlantic sharpnose
Observations from this study indicate that it is caught all year round. Birth apparently
occurs during the Southern Brazil spring (September- November). Individuals from all
size classes have been examined.
Sphyrna lewini scalloped hammerhead
One of the most common shark species caught by artisanal fisheries during the *
summer months in Sao Paulo State, when adult females arrive to give birth. The
catches are composed almost exclusively of newborns and juveniles.
Sphyrna zygaena smooth hammerhead
This species appears to be more common in coastal waters during the winter period. ^
Only juveniles (70-140 cm) were studied.
Carcharhinus species requiem sharks
Six species have been examined. Carcharhinus brevipinna (spinner shark) is the most
frequently caught, occurring in summer. C. limbatus (blacktip shark) shows a similar
distribution pattern to C. brevipinna, regarding the seasonal occurrence of newborns,
but is less abundant than the former. Juvenile C. obscurus (dusky shark) occur in
winter. C. plumbeus (sandbar shark) and C. porosus (smalltail shark) are uncommon,
and juveniles occur during spring-summer periods. Only one specimen of C. acronotus
(blacknose shark) was caught. This was a juvenile male and the southernmost known
record of this species, which is most common in Northern Brazil (Gadig 1994, Hazin
Squatina guggenheim angel shark
A few samples of adults were obtained in winter. Some juveniles were collected in
spring. This species is more frequently caught by bigger vessels in the deeper waters
of South Brazil (Vooren and da Silva 1991).
Other Sharks Three juvenile Galeocerdo cuvier (tiger shark) were caught in summer.
Three adult male sandtiger sharks, Carcharias taurus, were observed in the same
season, showing developed and haemorragic claspers, suggesting mating activity. A
juvenile specimen of Alopias vulpinus (thresher shark) measuring about 135cm TL was
caught during winter. The former is more abundant in Northern Brazil (Gadig 1994,
Hazin 1995), while the thresher is usually associated with oceanic areas (Amorim and
Future strategies and goals Having now gained adequate information on the biology
and fisheries of shark species inhabiting this area, future strategies to be undertaken
will consider the following topics:
1. the establishment of educational programmes to inform the fishermen about
2. the development of a document presenting the results of the project for
submission to scientific and government authorities;
3. the implementation of measures to reduce fishing pressures on small coastal
The importance of researcher fishermen interactions Two Masters theses are in
development, utilising data from this project. The Projeto Cagao does not receive any
direct financial support from government or private agencies. The monthly costs of
travelling, sampling and other expenses, (about US $300), are obtained through sales
of Project T-Shirts.
This sum would not be enough if it were not for the collaboration and friendship of the
local fishermen who have been helping the Project staff. These fishermen frequently
donate whole specimens for research and allow all sharks to be made available for
study before processing, as well as putting their boats at the disposal of the Project.
Without such help this work would not be possible.
Amorim, A. F. and C.A. Arfelli. 1992. The shark fishery in south and southern Brazil.
Figueiredo, J. L. 1977. Manual de Peixes Marinhos do Sudeste do Brasil. Introdugao.
Caqges, Raias e Quimeras. Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de SAo Paulo. 104 pp.
Gadig, O. B. F. 1994. Fauna de Tubaroes da Costa Norte/Nordeste do Brasil
(Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii). Master Thesis, Universidade Federal da Paraiba.
0 -II- -fT~^^^^
Hazin, F. H. V. (Coord) Projeto Etepe Eecologia de Tubar6es do Litoral de
Lessa, R. P. T. 1987. Levantamento faunistico dos elasmobrAnquios (Pisces,
Chondrichthyes)dolitoralocidentaldoMaranhao,Brasil. Bol.Lab.Hidrobiol., Sao Luis,
Sadowsky, V. 1967. Selachier aus dem litoral von Sao Paulo. Bresilien. Beit. Neotrop.
Stride, R. K., V. S. Batista and A. A. B. Raposo. 1992. Pesca experimental de tubarao
com redes de emalhar no litoral maranhense. Projeto Pesca Artesanal. CORSUP/
EDUFMA, Sao Luis. 160 pp.
Vooren, C. M. and K. G. da Silva. 1991. On the taxonomy of the angel sharks from
southern Brazil, with description of Squatina occulta sp. n. Rev. Brasil. Biol. 51(3):589-
Otto Bismarck Fazzano Gadig
Universidade Santa Cecilia
Santos Sao Paulo, Brazil
The artisanal ray fishery in the Gulf of California:
development, fisheries research and management issues
J. Fernando Mirquez-Farias, Instituto Nacional de la Pesca, M~xic
Fishing for rays in the Mexican Pacific developed with the introduction of bottom
gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California, where local fishers target flounder, grouper, and
many other finfish resources. The boats used for fishing rays are typical "pangas" 22-
25ft in length, using outboard motors and operated by 1-3 fishers. Fishing trips are
from 1- 3 days in duration, and the operation depth varies with the target group of
species. The number of boats used in the ray fishery is currently unknown but is .
assumed to be high. Fishers tend to switch to ray fisheries depending on the
availability of other resources, for example during seasons when more valued
resources such as blue crab, shrimps and sierra are restricted due to regulatory
regimes. The catch is processed on the beach and stored in ice trucks.
The distribution is mostly regional and includes fresh fillets or salt dried meat. The
quality is judged primarily on the colour of the meat (i.e. darker colour = less value). In -
general, as with other artisanal fisheries in Mexico, the ray fishery is characterized by
limited infrastructure for processing, low technology, limited fishing ratio, income
supplies and marketing controlled by few companies or middlemen, and an
unarticulated role with respect to regional economies.
Figure 1. Average proportion of rays production by Mexican Pacific states. Dark
shaded states represent the Gulf of California region.
75 50 o/ 25 0
S BC --
GRO 0 0
The fishery for rays extends along the Gulf of California on both sides of Peninsula de
Baja California to the Southern Mexican Pacific Coast. The importance of the ray
fishery in terms of production decreases from North to South (Figure 1).
Compared to the shark fishery that dates back to the late 1930's, the catch of rays in
Mexico is a fairly new activity. The documentation of production began officially in
1986, assuming previously unregistered catches. The peak catch of rays was 1996
with 6,666t, and in 2000 the catch had decreased to 4,944t. The average catch for all
Mexican Pacific states during the period from 1990 to 2000 was 5,514t, showing a
relative stable trend. Catch production of the Gulf of California surrounding states
represented 93% of the Pacific Coast total production during the same period (Figure
Figure 2. Annual catches of rays in the Pacific Ocean.
S 4000 -
oR~z--o- ^ ^ --
1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000
Pacific Ocean -o-- Gulf of California --o-- Sonora
Despite the development of the ray fishery, very few specific studies have been
conducted in the Gulf of California region. Most have been carried out along the South
West Coast of Baja California, Bahia Almejas and provide limited information. This,
however, represents the only information produced regarding some commercially
important rays in the region (R. products, R. steindachneri, G. marmorata, N.
entemedor, among others), which, unfortunately is mostly published in low impact
journals. Undoubtedly the most valuable survey on rays and sharks in the Gulf of
California was carried out in a twoyear multi institutional research project conducted
during 1998-99, lead by Dr. Robert Hueter from CSR/ MML (Status of the shark and
ray fishery resources in the Gulf of California: Applied Research to Improve
Management and Conservation. Email: email@example.com).
A multispecies complex structure and a wide spectrum of life history strategies of the
elasmobranchs studied were elucidated as a result of the biological examination of the
catch in this survey. Species registered in Sonora state alone show the high diversity
and relative importance in the catches (Table 1). The first five species represent almost
90% of the catches. Species composition varied depending mainly on the gillnet mesh
size used and the season.
Table 1. Relative proportion of rays in Sonora.
0 -II- -fT~^^^^
Rhinobatus glaucostigma 4.40
Gymnura crebripuncata 2.74
Myliobatis californica 2.21
Zapterix exasperata 1.61
Raja velezi 1.24
Urobatis maculatus 0.18
Dasyatis longus 0.07
Mobula munkiana 0.06
Urotrygon chilensis 0.05
Mobula japanica 0.04
Myliobatis longirostris 0.03
Urotrygon rogersi 0.02
Urobatis halleri 0.01
Rays have been caught traditionally as bycatch in well-developed fisheries such as:
blue crab (Callinectes bellicosus), sierra (Scomberomorus sierra and S. concolor), and
shrimp (Litopenaeus spp., and Farfantepenaeus spp.). A gross calculation of the level
of bycatch in the shrimp fishery using a 1:10 bycatch ratio (1 kg/ shrimp:10 kg/bycatch
biomass) (Garcia-Caudillo et al. 2000), indicated the excessive biomass of rays that
have been caught in the Gulf of California during the last 60 years. This prompted us to
speculate that ray mortality level from bycatch exceeds the mortality level from the
directed ray fishery in the Gulf of California. Parallel commercial activity has developed
as a consequence of the large amounts of rays caught in the shrimp trawlers. This
informal activity, consisting of middlemen buying the bycatch from the shrimp trawlers,
is resulting in disadvantageous competition for the authentic fishermen, mainly
because the price of the product from the trawlers is low due to the low operational
costs. In addition, rays are frequently caught in traps used in the blue crab fishery and
in gillnets used for sierra.
From almost no knowledge about the ray catches in the Gulf of California in 1998,
basic information on the fishery, biology and life history styles of several commercially
important rays is now recognized. Specifically, the research priorities of Instituto
Nacional de la Pesca (INP) and preliminary results are:
SFishing gear selectivity. Because the fishing gears are constructed based on
the fishers' experience, their characteristics and dimensions inevitably vary.
Panels of different mesh size can be used and various types of net. Catch
performance of gillnets in terms of selectivity is currently being examined. As
expected, preliminary results have indicated different impacts on the population
depending on the size selectivity properties of gillnets.
SEmbryonic growth. Monitoring pregnant females in the catch is used to
estimate the season of parturition and the relative area of pupping grounds in
Sonora state. Synchronization between embryonic growth of several species of
rays and average surface temperature of the Gulf of California has been found.
Fecundity. The number of pups produced by species demonstrates the wide
range of litter sizes. Some species are recognized as highly productive such as
Rhinobatos spp. (3-10 pups), and Gymnura marmorata (2-15 pups). Contrarily,
species such as Rhinoptera steindachneri (1 pup) and Mobula (1 pup) have an
extraordinary low fecundity.
Maturity. Macroscopic sexual organs and histological surveys of shell glands
and testes for several species are examined from specimens to investigate the
possibility of sperm storage as a reproductive strategy, and for validation of the
size at maturity. The maturity stages of the species are being compared to the
selectivity of gillnets in order to estimate the trend of the gear to retain juveniles.
Regulation and management issues
Shark management in Mexico is still in the process of implementation due to radical
opposition by the recreational sector demanding the inclusion of allowable proportions
of billfishes as bycatch by longliners and drift gillnet vessels. A summary of regulation
guidelines for the shark fishery was described by Castillo et al. (1998). Regulation of
the shark fishery also includes measures for rays. Unfortunately, the main causes
retarding the implementation of the regulations for sharks are of political order going
beyond the facilities of the INP, and currently, the commercial ray fishery is not
However, through the INP, a new instrument for fisheries management has been
developed, the Carta Nacional Pesquera, CNP (National Fisheries Chart). The CNP
has legal and obligatory status and brings encouraging possibilities to incorporate the
scientific findings of a particular fishery resource (either a single species or a group of
species) identified as a Fishing Management Unit (FMU). This management tool will
allow INP to build a record summarizing the state of knowledge of a specific FMU
which could be implemented and updated annually. Anyone who is able to contribute tc
the knowledge of a certain resource can incorporate information via the Internet (http://
inp.semarnap.gob.mx/ convocatoria/). This information is then reviewed and refereed
by a panel of experts. In this way, information on ray resources has already been
submitted and is currently undergoing the review process. Ironically, regulation of rays
in the Gulf of California could be implemented faster than the Federal Management
Plan for sharks (which includes ray-like species), which has been in the planning and
development stages for at least seven years.
Legally protected elasmobranch species in Mexico Manta rays Manta birostris, Mobula
japanica and Mobula lucasana have been protected since March 25, 1994 in the 12
miles perimeter surrounding the Revillagigedo archipelago (Isla San Benedicto, I.
Clarion, Roca partida, I. Socorro and I. Guadalupe) in the Mexican Pacific. Commercial
fishing is legal in other areas (Camhi et al., in prep).
Camhi, M. et al. Global Status of Sharks. In preparation. Occasional Paper of the IUCN
Species Survival Commission. IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland,
Castillo-Geniz, J. L., J. F. Marquez-Farias, M. C. Rodriguez de la Cruz, E. Cortes and
A. Cid del Prado. 1998. The Mexican artisanal shark fishery in the Gulf of Mexico:
towards a regulated fishery. Mar. Freshwater Res. 49:611-20.
Garcia-Caudillo, J. M., M. A. Cisneros-Mata and A. Balmori. 2000. Performance of a
bycatch reduction device in the shrimp fishery of the Gulf of California, Mexico.
Biological Conservation 92:199-205.
Institute Nacional de la Pesca. Program Tibur6n.
Centro Regional de Investigaci6n Pesquera, Calle 20 Sur,
605. CP 85400 Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.
Fax: (622) 22- 2-59-25
Historic Trends in Catches of the Brazilian Longline
Fishery in the Southwestern Equatorial Atlantic Ocean
F6bio H. V. Hazin*, Matt K. Broadhurst2, Humberto G. Hazin1 and
1Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Brazil
2Cronulla Fisheries Centre, Australia
The pelagic longline fishery off northeastern Brazil began in 1956 with several
Japanese longliners (leased by a Brazilian company) primarily targeting tunas
(Thunnus spp.). This fleet consisted of 12 boats in 1959 (Paiva and Le Gall 1975) and
although the fishery was quite successful, fishing operations were suspended in 1964
due to economic and political reasons. Between 1976 and 1977, the fishery
experienced a brief revival through the leasing of two Korean longliners. However,
there was no significant effort until 1983, when a Brazilian company began to operate
from Natal (northeast Brazil), using relatively small vessels to target tunas, billfishes
and sharks (mainly the blue shark, Prionace glauca and other Chacharhinus species).
The longline fleet expanded throughout the following 17 years and by 2000 it consisted
of 18 boats, ranging in size from approximately 16 to 26 m.
Catch data from this fishery have routinely been collected and used in studies
examining biological characteristics of the principle species caught, including their
relative distributions and abundances (Hazin et al. 1990; 1994a, Travassos et al.
1999), reproductive biology (Hazin et al. 1994b), and feeding habits (Hazin et al.
1994c). More recently, Hazin et al. (1998), analysed catch data from some vessels and
provided a brief overview of temporal and spatial variations in catch compositions. The
identification of such factors has proved essential for the effective management of this
fishery. In the present paper, we have expanded the overview presented by Hazin et
al. (1998) and included yearly catch data until 2000.
Material and Methods
This study used data collected from the log-sheets of longliners operating off northeast
Brazil, between 1983 to 2000. Prior to 1996, all vessels used Japanese-style l
multifilament longlines (for details see Shapiro 1950, Suzuki et al. 1977) baited with
Brazilian sardine, Sardinella brasiliensis. In 1997, all vessels began using
monofilament longlines rigged with light-sticks and baited with squid, Illex argentinus.
Relative abundance of species was evaluated s a nominal catch per unit of effort
(CPUE), defined as the number of fish caught per 100 hooks per year. Catch records
included identification of species, with the exception of sharks, which were collectively
grouped up to 1986. After that year, sharks began to be recorded by species. However
because of difficulties in distinguishing some of the species of the genus Carcharhinus,
for the purposes of this study, they were grouped under the category "gray sharks".
^^H~~~~ 0 0X^^^^^^
Results and Discussion
The data presented in Figure 1 show quite large temporal fluctuations of total yearly
CPUE of most groups of species examined. Many of these temporal variations can be
explained by the changes in overall fishing strategy over the past 17 years,
summarized in 5 distinct periods:
Period 1 (July 1983 June 1986): tunas (mainly yellowfin tuna) and billfish
(swordfish Xiphias gladius, sailfish Istiophorus albicans, white marlin Tetrapturus
albidus, and blue marlin Makaira nigricans) were the main target groups whilst
sharks were avoided.
Period 2 (July 1986 December 1987): along with tunas and billfishes, sharks
(mainly blue sharks) became a target group.
Period 3 (January 1988 June 1991): yellowfin tuna fishing grounds were
discovered off the Archipelago of St. Peter and St. Paul, resulting in a shift of
effort towards this species.
Period 4 (July 1991 June 1996): fishing effort was concentrated over shallow
seamounts, where gray sharks species were abundant.
Period 5 (July 1996 Dec 2000): although gray sharks were still the dominant
group, the CPUE of swordfish rose sharply owing to a concentrated effort
involving the use of light sticks and squid as bait.
The initial shift in effort towards sharks (period 2) occurred mainly because of an
increased awareness of their abundance and availability. Unlike nearly all international
longline fisheries, which tend to remove shark fins and discard the carcass at sea, all
shark carcasses caught off northeastern Brazil were landed and sold locally. However,
because of the low price of their meat, prior to June 1986, the return paid to fishers
was half that for tunas and billfishes. In July 1986, the fishing company standardized
the return for all species caught following the realization that although sharks were
worth less than other species, their abundance meant that production could be more
than doubled. The existence of an established local market for shark products (e.g.
frozen fillets), which had developed from the steady production of shark meat during
the first three years of the fishery, facilitated this shift in effort.
In January 1988, and during the first quarter of each consecutive year (period 3),
vessels began to operate in the vicinity of the Archipelago of St. Peter and St. Paul to
target yellowfin tuna that aggregate there in large numbers to feed on dense schools of
spawning flying fish. As a result, the CPUE of this species more than tripled in the first
two years after the new fishing grounds were discovered. This contributed to an overall
rise in the CPUE of total tunas (Figure 1), and a slight drop in the CPUE of sharks
(1988-90) due to a shift in effort away from areas of their maximum abundance (i.e.
seamounts of the North Brazilian Chain and Fernando de Noronha Chain).
After 1992 (during period 4), vessels concentrated around the many seamounts,
located mainly in Fernando de Noronha and North Brazilian Chains, to target gray
sharks (Figures 1 and 2). The discovery of large abundances of this species in the
vicinity of these seamounts, as well an increase in the international price of shark fins,
contributed to this shift in effort.
0 -II- -fT~^^^^
Figure 1. Yearly mean CPUE of tunas, sharks, billfishes and others fishes caught by
Brazilian longliners off northeast Brazil, from July 1983 to December 2000.
-, -- a
Figure 2. Yearly mean CPUE of blue shark and gray shark caught by Brazilian
longliners off northeast Brazil, from July 1983 to December 2000.
II U ) 91l ~ s s ~ t a a sa
During period 5, catches of billfishes increased as vessels began to adopt
monofilament gear, rigged with lightsticks and squid as bait. The main species targeted
was swordfish, although catches of other billfish also increased. The use of
monofilament in areas not predominantly dominated by sharks meant that their CPUE
subsequently dropped and is currently comparable to levels observed during period 3.
It is apparent that numerous factors have contributed to changes in fishing strategies
during the past 17 years. Many of the shifts in effort are either market orientated,
reflecting variation in consumer demand for various species, or as a result of the
discovery of new fishing grounds and stocks. Very few of the changes observed in the
first 13 years are gear related, however, given some of the more recent developments
(e.g. use of monofilament), and that most of the fishing areas have been fully explored,
these sorts of changes are likely to affect CPUE in the future. Ongoing monitoring of
the fishing strategy and any changes in fishing gear are therefore essential for the
effective management of this fishery.
...... .- .............. 4- -. -
Hazin, F. H. V., A. A Couto, K. Kihara, K. Otsuka and M. Ishino. 1990. Distribution and
abundance of pelagic sharks in the south-western equatorial Atlantic. J. Tokyo Univ.
Hazin, F. H. V., C. E. Boeckman, E. C. Leal, R. P. T. Lessa, K. Kihara, and K. Otsuka.
1994a. Distribution and relative abundance of the blue shark, Prionace glauca, in the
southwestern equatorial Atlantic Ocean. Fish. Bull. 92:474-480.
Hazin, F. H. V., K. Kihara, K. Otsuka, C. E. Boeckman and E. C. Leal. 1994b.
Reproduction of the blue shark Prionace glauca in the south-western equatorial Atlantic
Ocean. Fish. Sci. 60(5):487-491.
Hazin, F. H. V., R. Lessa and M. Chammas. 1994c. First observation on stomach
contents of the blue shark, Prionace glauca, from southwestern equatorial Atlantic.
Rev. Brasil. Biol. 154(2):195- 198.
Hazin, F. H. V., J. R. Zagaglia, M. K. Broadhurst, P. E. P. Travassos and T. R. Q.
Bezerra. 1998. Review of a small-scale pelagic longline fishery off northeastern Brazil.
Marine Fisheries Review 60(3): 1-8.
Paiva, M. P. and J. Y. Le Gall. 1975. Catches of tunas and tuna like fishes in the
longline fishery area off the coast of Brazil. Arq. Cidnc. Mar. 15(1):1-18.
Rogers, D. D. 1994. The biology of seamounts. Adv. Mar. Biol. 30: 305-350.
Shapiro, G. D. 1950. The Japanese longline fishery for tunas. Commer. Fish. Rev. 12
Suzuki, Z., Y. Warashima and M. Kishida. 1977. The comparison of catches by regular
and deep tuna longline gear in the western and central equatorial Pacific. Bull. Far
Seas Fish. Res. Lab. 15:51-89.
Travassos, P., F. H. V. Hazin, J. R. Zagaglia, R. A. Rocha and J. Schober. 1999.
Thermocline structure around seamounts and islands of Northeast Brazil. Arch. Fish.
Mar. Res. 47 (2/3):211-222.
Fabio H. V. Hazin
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco
Avenida Dom Manoel de Medeiros, s/n, Dois
Fax: 55 081 33021512
Search Fishs Selections...
IUCN SSC Specialist Group Grants
The Chicago Zoological Society makes annual grants to IUCN Species Survival
Commission Specialist Groups for small projects identified in Action Plans or other
group priority setting exercises. There are two grant cycles, one with awards in May
and the other with awards in October. The Fund will support projects up to $5,000.
Priority will be given to projects that are clearly of critical need for species or habitats,
that are likely to provide good, immediate results. Education /communications projects
are welcome. Strict biological research projects are not a priority for this fund, unless.
there can be a direct application of the results.
Applications must be made through the SSG Executive Committee. Contact Rachel
Cavanagh, SSG Programme Officer (address on p19) for details.
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Bycatch of Sharks and Rays in the Deep Sea Crustacean
Fishery off the Chilean Coast
Enzo Acuia & Juan C. Villarroel, Universidad Cat6lica del Norte,
The crustacean fishery for the red squat lobster Pleuroncodes monodon, the yellow
squat lobster Cervimunidajohni and deep sea shrimp Heterocarpus reedi, is a very
important commercial fishing activity off northern Chile. This is a bottom trawl fishery
that occurs close to the shelf break and into the upper slope, between 180-500 m
depth, with each of the three crustacean species being more abundant from shallower
to deeper waters in the following order: the red squat lobster, the yellow squat lobster *
and deep sea shrimp. The bycatch of this fishery includes several teleost and
chondrichthyan fish species. Fifty one species of sharks and thirty seven species of
rays have been recorded for Chilean waters by Pequeho (1989, 1997).
The most abundant bycatch species in this fishery is the common hake Merluccius
gayi, which contributes 40-50% of the relative abundance by weight of the bycatch.
The chondrichthyan species are far less abundant with sharks, rays and chimaeras
accounting for less than 10% of the total relative abundance by weight (Table 1).
A monitoring program of this fishery began in mid 1997, in the area between 260 and
36S off Chile, and since then ten shark species, four ray species and one chimaerid
have been recorded. The greatest diversity of bycatch has been found in the deep sea
shrimp catches, which is usually deeper than the two squat lobster species. (Table 1).
The percentage by weight of chondrichthyan species increases with depth, with only
two shark and one ray species present in the red squat lobster fishing grounds and fou
shark and three ray species in the yellow squat lobster fishing grounds, representing in
both cases less than 1% by weight of the bycatch. In the deep sea shrimp fishing
grounds ten shark, four ray and one chimaerid species are caught, comprising around
10% of the bycatch by weight. However, only two shark species are relatively important
in the bycatch of the deep sea shrimp fishing grounds: the hooktooth dogfish Aculeola
nigra and the dusky catshark Halaelurus canescens, each comprising less than 5% of
the bycatch (Table 1). With respect to the rays, only one species is relatively important *
in the catches of the deep sea shrimp fishery: the yellownose skate Dipturus chilensis
(McEachran and Dunn 1998), comprising less than 1% of the bycatch (Table 1).
This increase with depth seems to be a common trend, since a study in the bycatch of
deep-water bottom trawl fishery for orange roughy between 800-1200m (Koslow et al.
1994) and orange roughy and smooth oreo between 740-1503m (Wetherbee 2000) off
New Zealand and Australia, show more species and a larger percentage of deep sea
sharks in the bottom trawl captures at depths deeper than those of the Northern
Chilean crustacean fishery. A similar pattern was described for rays by McEachran and
Miyake (1990) which is consistent with our findings.
The biological information available for these deep sea shark species is scarce and
has only recently been increasing due to this study. Only a few papers regarding their
trophic ecology are published in the Chilean literature (Arancibia & Melendez 1987).
Recently, Catalan (unpublished data) has begun studying the reproductive biology of
the two most important chondrichthyan bycatch species, Aculeola nigra and Halaelurus
canescens for his marine biology thesis from specimens caught during this research
We would like to thank all who collaborated in the sampling during the past four years,
and the Crustacean Fishing Companies: Agua Fria, Amancay, Isladamas, Pesca
Marina and Socovel that financed the Monitoring Program.
Table 1. Relative importance by weight (%) of teleost and chondrichthyan fish
bycatch in the crustacean trawling fisheries from northern Chile. (Larger
percentages are in bold).
Red Yellow Deep-
Squat Squat sea
Lobster Lobster Shrimp
<0.01 <0.01 0.1
0.12 0.74 9.28
0.1 0.37 4.55
0.02 0.28 1.88
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Dipturus chilensis 0.08 0.89
brevicaudata Sympterygia <0.01 <0.01 0.54
OSTEICHTHYES 99.87 99.25 90.62
Arancibia, H. and R. Melendez. 1987. Alimentaci6n de peces concurrentes en la
pesqueria de Pleuroncodes monodon Milne Edwards. Investigaci6n Pesquera. (Chile)
Koslow, J.A., C. M. Bulman and J. M. Lyle. 1994. The mid-slope demersal fish
community of southeastern Australia. Deep Sea Research 41(1):113-141.
McEachran, J. D. and T. Miyake. 1990. Zoogeography and bathymetry of Skates
(Chondrichthyes: Rajoidei). In: Elasmobranchs as Living Resources: Advances in the
Biology, Ecology, Systematics, and the Status of the Fisheries (H. L. Pratt Jr., S. H.
Gruber and T. Taniuchi, eds.). NOAA Technical Report 90:305-326.
McEachran, J. D. and K. Dunn. 1998. Phylogenetic Analysis of Skates, a
Morphologically Conservative Clade of Elasmobranchs (Chondrichthyes: Rajidae).
Melendez, R. and D. Meneses. 1989. Tiburones del talud continental recolectados
entire Arica (18019'S) e Isla Mocha (38030'S), Chile. Invest. Mar. Valparaiso 17:3-73.
Pequeio, G. 1989. Peces de Chile. Lista sistematica revisada y comentada. Revista
de Biologia Marina Valparaiso 24:1-132.
Pequeio, G. 1997. Peces de Chile. Lista sistematica revisada y comentada:
addendum. Revista de Biologia Marina y Oceanografia 32:77-94.
Wetherbee, B. 2000. Assemblage of deep-sea sharks on Chatham Rise, New Zealand.
Fish. Bull. 98:189-198.
Departamento de Biologia Marina,
Facultad de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad Cat6lica del Norte,
Casilla 117, Coquimbo, Chile.
Fax: (56) 51 209812
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African Shark Conservation and Management Workshop International Fund for
Animal Welfare (IFAW)
IFAW organized this workshop in May 2001 in Cape Town, South Africa (Shark News
13). Scientists and conservationists from 23 countries, including 18 African countries
convened to discuss the future of shark species in African waters, and how best to
cooperate continent-wide to conserve them. Workshop participants created the African
Shark Management Group (ASMG) and elected Dr. Malcolm Smale, Port Elizabeth -
Museum South Africa, and SSG member, as Chair of the ASMG. After several days of
discussions on threats and conservation needs, international policies and agreements,
population trends, research data reviews, and ecotourism, the workshop formulated the
following resolutions. The first resolution was adopted amongst all participants, the
second has a reservation from the representative of the South African Department of *
Environmental Affairs & Tourism.
Recommendations in Relation to shark finning and FAO Shark Action Plans
Recognising that a number of African and other nations around the world, as well as
international bodies such as the FAO, have begun to address the urgent need for
conservation of shark species worldwide;
Acknowledging that sharks have exceptionally low reproductive potential and that the *
depletion of sharks will deprive people of an important resource for many decades;
Concerned that many developing nations lack the technical expertise and financial
resources to develop and implement National Plans of Action for Sharks;
Concerned that the practice of finningg" when the fins are cut off and the carcasses
discarded wastes up to 95% of the individual shark;
Recognising that wasteful fishing practices such as finning promote increased fishing
pressure, thereby increasing the risk of depleting shark populations and even some
Concerned that widespread shark finning can contribute to the deprivation of a natural
resource valuable to fishing communities;
Acknowledging the increasing need for animal protein in many communities in the -
developing world; *
Noting that the majority of profits from shark finning rarely go to local communities or
to producer countries;
Convinced that a finning prohibition would create an incentive to practice full utilisation
of dead animals and to use more selective fishing methods;
Recognising the concerns of local fishermen about the decreased abundance and
availability of fish as a result of the dumping of shark carcasses in the area;
The participants at the IFAW African Shark Conservation and Management Workshop
All fishing nations and nations with territorial waters implement the FAO Code of
Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the International Plan of Action for
Sharks (IPOA-sharks); and that
Besides all other necessary requirements and measures, particular attention
should be paid to "the minimisation of waste and discards" by promoting more
selective fishing methods and prohibiting shark finning;
All sharks, whether caught in directed fisheries or as bycatch, should, wherever
possible, be landed with their fins and tails still attached;
Bycatch of sharks should be avoided by the development and use of appropriate
fishing methods and gear, but if bycatch is unavoidable, the animals should be
Landing of fins without the corresponding carcasses should be prohibited; and
The FAO, and particularly the richer fishing nations and shark product-
consuming countries, as well as others, should provide financial and technical
assistance to developing countries to enforce these prohibitions and develop
and implement the National Plan of Action for Sharks.
Recommendations in Relation to CITES and Non-Consumptive Use
Noting that a number of African and other nations, around the world, as well as
international bodies such as the FAO, regional fisheries management organizations
and CITES, have begun to address the urgent need for conservation of shark species
Recognising that the FAO does not have the mandate to regulate and control
international trade in shark products and, therefore, calls in its International Plan of
Action for Sharks on other relevant bodies to do so;
Recognising that the depletion of sharks will deprive local populations of this valuable
resource for many generations, because many species of shark have exceptionally low
reproductive rates and might require decades to recover once depleted;
Recognising the lack of awareness in many countries of the vulnerability of sharks, of
their ecological and economic importance and of the numerous threats to their
Considering the potential benefits that alternative, non-consumptive use of sharks can
bring to local communities;
Recognising the global nature of CITES and its membership of more than 150 nations
and the special mandate of the Convention to regulate and control international trade
to avoid detrimental effects on wildlife species resulting from this trade;
Acknowledging that CITES can generate comprehensive reporting and valuable
statistics on international trade in sharks and their products in order to enhance shark
Recognising the urgent need for improved data and knowledge about the international
trade in sharks and their products as a means of facilitating the development and
implementation of national and regional shark action plans and management plans;
The participants at the IFAW African Shark Conservation and Management Workshop
recommend that, besides all other requirements and measures:
Governments adopt policies to ensure the sustainable management of shark
resources and help to identify alternative sources of food and income for local
communities, including from the nonconsumptive use of sharks;
All countries support CITES listing proposals for shark species when these
species qualify for listing under the CITES listing criteria;
Governments assess whether shark species in waters under their jurisdiction
qualify for CITES listing and, if so, consider proposing these for the appropriate
CITES Appendix at the next Conference of the Parties;
In order to generate cooperation amongst countries in whose waters these
species occur, governments seek Appendix III listing for these species;
Countries and organizations, in particular the richer fishing nations and shark-
product consuming countries, provide financial and technical assistance to
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developing countries to facilitate the realisation of the above objectives.
For more details see http://www.ifaw.org and the SSG website.
IFAW Europe CITES Coordinator
KattrepelsbrUcke 1, D-20095 Hamburg, Germany
Fax: +49 (40) 8665 0022
17th American Elasmobranch Society Meeting
Penn State, USA, July 2001
There were 61 oral presentations, 14 posters, 2 symposia and over 100 members
attended. The symposia were 'Nonfisheries-Related Human Impact on Elasmobranchs'
and 'From Icons to Art: The Cultural Significance of Sharks and Man'. A number of
resolutions came out of the meeting regarding spiny dogfish limits and measures; the
large coastal shark fishery; protection of the smalltooth sawfish and a management
plan for skates. Visit http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Organizations/AES/aes.htm for more
International Elasmobranch Husbandry Symposium
3-6th October 2001, Orlando, Florida, USA.
Organised and convened by Doug Warmolts (Columbus Zoo) and Mark Smith
(Oceanario de Lisboa), this meeting demonstrated remarkable cooperation and sharing
of experiences (good and bad) by the international public aquarium industry.
International experts met as part of the process of developing an elasmobranch
husbandry manual, which is planned to be published in 2003. The meeting concluded
with a discussion session, led by a panel of experts, focused on the participants' future
collaborative efforts orientated toward conserving elasmobranchs. It covered: (1)
legislation, permitting and collection; (2) husbandry and veterinary care; (3) captive
breeding; (4) research; and (5) education, outreach and advocacy. Doug and Mark will
facilitate a further discussion session at the Regional Aquatic Workshop (RAW) in
Denver (March 24 27th 2002) to review the plan of action (POA) framework and
advance its development. It is envisioned that the final document will be used as a
guide for regional taxon advisory groups (TAGs), and individual aquaria and zoological
institutions, when prioritising their respective objectives, formulating collections and
seeking programme funding. For more information about the 1st International
Elasmobranch Husbandry Symposium and manual initiative, please refer to the
website (http://www.colszoo.org/internal/ elasmo_2002/page l.htm)
5th Annual General Assembly and Science Meeting of the European
Elasmobranch Association (EEA)
Kiel, Germany, 19th-21st October 2001
The EEA Annual General Assembly of national member organisation representatives
was again coupled with a science meeting. It was hosted by the German
Elasmobranch Society (D.E.G.) together with the International Fund for Animal Welfare
(IFAW). Over 50 participants attended, among them scientists and conservationists
from countries all over Europe, the USA and Hong Kong. Two resolutions were agreed,
one in relation to shark finning and the FAO International Plan of Action for Sharks, anc
one in relation to CITES and the non-consumptive use of elasmobranchs. These
resolutions have been distributed at various political levels, including the EU Fisheries
Commission. The Science Meeting covered a broad range of research fields in the
sessions on Conservation and Management; Biology and Behaviour; Morphology,
Molecular Biology and Genetics; Distribution and Abundance; and Basking Sharks.
1st NUPEC Workshop on Chondrichthyes
Santos, Brazil, 12 -16 December 2001
Organized by the Instituto de Pesca and the Nucleo de Pesquisa e Estudo em
Chondrichthyes (NUPEC) this event was attended by researchers from Brazil, Portuga
and Uruguay. The agenda consisted of conferences, round tables (particularly
enlightening) and short courses. Among the issues addressed were Sea Animals in
Captivity (Joao Correia, Portugal Oceanario), Skates of Northern Brazil (Lucia Goes de
Araujo, Amazonas University), and Identification of Brazilian Rajidae (Ulises Leites
Gomes, State University of Rio de Janeiro). The last round table, regarding
Endangered Chondrichthyes, agreed a statement to be sent to the Sociedade
Brasileira de Elasmobrinquios (SBEEL).
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Sharks of Florida, The Bahamas, The Caribbean and The Gulf of Mexico
Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch, 2001.
96pp. Trident Press, London, UK. ISBN 1-900724-45-6.
Few divers are as familiar with shark behaviour as Jeremy Stafford- Deitsch, and he
brings invaluable first-hand experience to the subject. This beautifully illustrated book is
the latest in the IN DEPTH Divers' Guide series. The book is the only comprehensive
guide to sharks of the tropical western Atlantic in a single volume, and contains useful
and easily accessible information on a wide range of topics concerning sharks and
their interactions with divers. The first part of the book deals with frequently asked
questions about sharks, and the second part deals with individual species, providing
vital information on how to identify sharks underwater. It includes descriptive
information on 17 different sharks that frequent the Caribbean and adjacent seas.
Available in soft back (9.99). Contact Orca Book Services, Fax +44 (0) 1202 666219
or Tel +44 (0) 1202 665432.
The behavior and sensory biology of elasmobranch fishes: an anthology in
memory of Donald Nelson
Timothy C. Tricas and Samuel H. Gruber, 2001.
319pp. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands. ISBN 0-7923-6821-5
This volume is dedicated to the scientific contributions and memory of Donald Nelson,
a pioneer in the study of shark behaviour, sensory biology and remote instrumentation.
The volume includes papers on elasmobranch sensory biology and behaviour,
addressing issues such as hearing, the lateral line, electroreception, the brain,
orientation behaviour, chemical irritants, feeding and reproduction. There are also
papers on tagging techniques, ultrasonic telemetry, physiological telemetry, remote
monitoring techniques, archival tagging and satellite tagging. The intent of the volume t
is to familiarise both new and established scientists with the sensory biology and
behaviour of sharks and rays, and to encourage further research in these areas on
elasmobranchs in their natural habitat.
The Red Book: the Extinction Crisis Face to Face
Amie Brautigam and Martin Jenkins, 2001.
300pp., 256 colour photos 45, US$65.
Published by CEMEX, in collaboration with IUCN's
Species Survival Commission and Agrupaci6n Sierra Madre.
Drawing on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the world's most objective and
authoritative inventory of species at risk of extinction, this publication combines awe-
inspiring imagery with solid science and factual accounts. The result of a collaboration
between industry and science, this dramatic new work conveys to the general public
the urgency and scale of the current extinction crisis. It describes the extinction
process, its causes, and the measures needed to reverse it in terms accessible to
everyone. More than simply raising awareness, this book is a call for action to all
sectors of society from industry to governments to educators, to work together to save
Order no. B1122. Proceeds from the sale of this publication will be used to endow the
Peter Scott Fund to further SSC's work in conservation. Order from http://www.iucn.org
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharks and their Relatives: Ecology and Conservation
M. Camhi, S. Fowler, J. Musick, A. Brautigam and S. Fordham. 1998. Occasional
Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission No. 20. iv + 39 pp. No
Now available at the discount price of 7 or $10 plus postage and packing (20%
surface, 40% overseas airmail) from Rachel Cavanagh, SSG Programme Officer, 36
Kingfisher Court, Hambridge Road, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5SJ, UK.
SS u I|d
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Pelagic fisheries in the Galapagos Marine Resources -
The IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) strongly urges the Ecuador government not to
allow commercial fishing for tunas and other pelagic fishes in the Galapagos Marine
Resources Reserve (GMRR). We believe that commercial fisheries are a serious threat
to sharks, and the marine environment of the GMRR as a whole, and will have
farreaching negative consequences for this unique World Heritage Site. Marine
reserves are not mere conservation tools to protect the odd threatened species or
habitat. They are critical to ensuring that fisheries remain productive and marine
ecosystems stay healthy.
A major environmental problem associated with pelagic fleets (both drift net and
longline) is the high level of indiscriminate bycatch of other species, including sharks,
manta rays, marine mammals, turtles and seabirds. Shark and ray populations have
been seriously depleted throughout the world as a result of overfishing, much of which
is due to bycatch from fisheries targeting other species.
Sharks are Vulnerable
Twenty-seven species of sharks and rays (chondrichthyan fish) have been recorded
from the waters around the Galapagos. Most chondrichthyans are of low productivity
relative to teleost fishes, due to their different life history strategies. Chondrichthyans
are particularly vulnerable to fishing pressure because of their slow-growth, late
maturity, long life spans, and low fecundity. The overfishing of sharks is of global
concern and the focus of conservation efforts under the FAO International Plan of
Action for Sharks and CITES, as well as other conservation and fishery treaties.
Role of Marine Reserves
Many of the sharks and rays occurring around the Galapagos are migratory species.
Whilst it is not possible to protect the whole habitat for such fish, the Galapagos
Reserve, currently protects an area sufficiently large to provide significant protection to
the majority of the far-ranging species. There is increasing recognition worldwide of the
importance of marine reserves as a fisheries management tool to prevent overfishing
and habitat destruction. Ecuador will be taking a step backwards if this protected area *
is opened to commercial pelagic fisheries.
There are several good reasons for prohibiting fishing for any pelagic species in the
GGMR. These include: (1) Marine protected areas (MPAs) can offer important
protection to migratory species at critical times and places during their life cycles,
including spawning areas, nursery grounds or migration bottlenecks. (2) A primary
objective for MPAs is to protect the ecological function and integrity of marine
ecosystems. Pelagic and non- resident species are critical to the integrity of these
ecosystems and interact with residents in important ways, for example as prey or
predators, or sources of nutrients. (3) It is harder to enforce regulations where certain -
kinds of fishing are allowed. Full protection is more straightforward to implement. (4)
Shark fishing is currently banned in the GMMR to protect this vulnerable resource;
allowing pelagic fishing will result in unacceptably high mortality from bycatch.
Commercial fishing will have a negative effect on the tourism industry of the
Galapagos. Healthy shark populations are a major draw for dive tourism around the
world. In the Bahamas a single live reef shark is estimated to be worth $250,000 in
terms of dive tourism, whereas a dead reef shark has a one-time value of $50-60 to a
fisherman. Similarly, in the Maldives in 1993, a single reef shark had a renewable value
of $35,500 per year from diving, the same shark dead brought only $32 to the
fisherman. The Galapagos Islands offer some of the world's best diving. For example,
few sites in the world support similarly sized schools of hammerhead sharks. It is vital
for the GMRR to maintain the abundance of sharks to assure the future of this high
value, fast-growing industry.
The ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands are one of the greatest biological treasures
of the world: it is of international importance that it is retained in as near-natural a state
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This issue is sponsored by the National Audubon Society
Living Oceans Program
The Living Oceans Program is the marine conservation program of the National
Audubon Society, a nonprofit conservation organisation dedicated to protecting wildlife
and wild places. A primary goal of Living Oceans is the conservation and restoration of
the oceans' giant fishes, particularly sharks, tunas and billfishes. We believe that
effective fisheries management and conservation action must be based on sound
science. Living Oceans has been a major financial supporter of Shark News since its
inception in 1994, and we are pleased to sponsor this 14th issue addressing
elasmobranch research, conservation and management in South and Central America.
Living Oceans engages in shark conservation and management at many levels, from
spearheading efforts to improve the US Atlantic shark management plan, to helping to
address the conservation of sharks in Central America, to assisting in conservation
initiatives at CITES regarding the trade in shark products and with the FAO
International Plan of Action for Sharks.
For more information about Audubon's Living Oceans Program, please contact Merry
Camhi, SSG Deputy Chair, National Audubon Society, Living Oceans Program, 550
South Bay Avenue, Islip, NY 11751, USA. Email: email@example.com
Shark News is fundamental to the work of the Shark Specialist Group, linking experts
from around the world, publicising research and developments and confronts critical
conservation issues. We urge other organizations and individuals to sponsor upcoming
issues of Shark News. With a growing global distribution Shark News is becoming an
increasingly important means of communication among shark scientists and other
elasmobranch enthusiasts. Please support this newsletter by sending your contribution 1
today, or even better, ask your institution to sponsor an issue. Former sponsors have
included the Audubon's Living Ocean Program, Columbus Zoo, WWF's Endangered
Seas Campaign, the Center for Marine Conservation, the Ocean Wildlife Campaign
and the US State Department.
Please contact Rachel Cavanagh, SSG Programme Officer for details on sponsoring
part or all of an issue of Shark News, or with articles for future issues: *
We gratefully acknowledge the donations for newsletter production received from the
following: Fabrizio Serena, Michele Romanelli, ICRAM, Stuart Nicholls, Jennifer
Zimmerman, Andrej Presern and the Karger Libri.
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Sustainable Utilization and Conservation of Sharks
Taipei, Taiwan, 13-16 May 2002
18th American Elasmobranch Society Meeting
Kansas City, Missouri, USA, 3-8 July 2002
AFS Deep-Sea Elasmobranch Symposium
Vancouver, Canada, 22-26 July 2002
6th European Elasmobranch Association Meeting ..
Cardiff, UK, 7-8 September 2002. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Elasmobranch Fisheries: Managing for Sustainable Use and Biodiversity
Spain (venue to be announced), 11-13 September 2002
12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES ..
Santiago, Chile, 3rd-15th November 2002, http://www.cites.org
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Shark News aims to provide a forum for exchange of information on all aspects of
chondrichthyan conservation matters for Shark Group members and other readers. It is
not necessary to be a member of the Shark Specialist Group in order to receive this
newsletter (see p.19).
We publish articles dealing with shark, skate, ray and chimaeroid fisheries,
conservation and population status issues around the world; circulate information on
other relevant journals, publications and scientific papers; alert our readers to current
threats to chondrichthyans; and provide news of meetings. We do not usually publish
original scientific data, but aim to complement scientific journals. Published material
represents the authors' opinions only, and not those of IUCN or the Shark Specialist
Publication dates are dependent upon sponsorship and receiving sufficient material for
publication, formerly three issues per annum.
Manuscripts should be sent to Rachel Cavanagh at the address given on p.19.
They should be composed in English, legibly typewritten and double-spaced. Word-
processed material on IBM-compatible discs would be most gratefully received, or as
email attachments. Tables and figures must include captions and graphics should be
Length of features: (word counts include titles and references): The lead article, with
two good size illustrations, should be no more than 1,300-1,400 words. A single
column article should be 550-600 words, (450-500 words leaves space for a small
illustration). A full page (2 column) article with good-sized illustration should be 800-
1000 words. Other main articles, for an inside two page spread with one large or two
medium-sized illustrations, should be 1,800-2,000 words, depending on the number of
illustrations. Short newsy communications and letters are also welcome.
Writing style: This newsletter goes to members of the general public and to managers
and policy-makers, as well as to elasmobranch specialists, fisheries scientists and the
conservation community. We need a clear and brief style of writing. It is also essential
to break up the text with plenty of subheadings, and to provide one or two photographs
or graphics. There is room for small tables, but nothing too long and complex. Author's
name, affiliation and address must be provided, with their fax number and email
address where available.
This newsletter is designed and produced by the Nature Bureau Ltd., 36 Kingfisher
Court, Hambridge Road, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5SJ, UK.